Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate took another significant step toward ending the undemocratic territory status of Puerto Rico with the introduction of S. 3231, the Puerto Rico Status Act (PRSA). The introduction of this bill by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), which serves as a Senate companion to H.R. 2757, continues the bipartisan momentum from the House to decolonize the island after 125 of Puerto Rico being treated by Congress as a U.S. territory whose 3.2 million U.S. citizens are denied full voting rights and equality at the federal level.
Nearly a year ago, in the previous session of Congress, the House passed the PRSA with bipartisan support, yet due to limited time the Senate was unable to take action. Earlier this year, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) reintroduced the PRSA in the House, and again proposed a plebiscite for voters on the island to choose between either: statehood, independence, or independence in free association with the U.S.
“Today’s introduction of the Puerto Rico Status Act (PRSA) in the U.S. Senate is a testament to Senator Heinrich’s continued commitment to definitively resolving Puerto Rico’s unequal territory status and builds on years of bipartisan momentum. Last year’s House passage of the PRSA with strong bi-partisan support represented the third time since 1998 that the House has passed legislation to address this issue. We believe that today’s introduction of the PRSA in the Senate is opening a meaningful opportunity for the upper chamber to accumulate support and ultimately take action to definitively end Puerto Rico’s territorial democratic deficit,” said George H. Laws García, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Statehood Council (PRSC).
“Voters in Puerto Rico have rejected the current territory status and favored statehood three times in the last decade, now with the Senate companion bill to the PRSA we have a realistic opportunity to offer them a definitive choice that includes their preferred option of statehood. We call on all U.S. citizens that believe in and support American democracy to contact your Senators and Representatives to urge them to support and pass the Puerto Rico Status Act,” added Laws García.
As residents of the oldest and largest territorial colony of the U.S., Puerto Rico’s U.S. citizens lack the equality guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution merely for residing on the island. Due to the island’s territory status its residents do not have any representation in the Senate, lack voting representation in the House, they are denied the right to vote for President, and are treated unequally under essential federal laws and programs. As a result of this unequal treatment, the island’s residents have continuously called for an end to Puerto Rico’s territory status. Now it is time for Congress to finally provide the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico the ability to self-determine their political future from among the only constitutionally viable and non-territorial options.
Upon introduction in the Senate today, the PRSA has already obtained co-sponsorship support from twenty members of that chamber. This makes it the Puerto Rico status bill with the largest number of original co-sponsors in the history of the U.S. Senate.
“The Puerto Rico Statehood Council thanks all Senators who have co-sponsored this bill, and looks forward to working with other Senate offices to continue to build bi-partisan support for this issue, which not only impacts the 3.2 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, but which is directly connected to the strength of American democracy as a whole. We also thank Puerto Rico ‘s Governor Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Cólon, and the thousands of grassroots advocates whose unyielding efforts to get the U.S. Congress to respond to the will of Puerto Rico’s voters continues to advance this critical issue whose time has definitely come,” concluded Laws García.
READ THE LEGISLATION BY CLICKING HERE.
READ THE FACT SHEET OF THE BILL BY CLICKING HERE.
READ THE SECTION BY SECTION SUMMARY OF THE BILL BY CLICKING HERE.
The Puerto Rico Statehood Council is a Washington, D.C. based, non-partisan, 501(c)4 non-profit issue advocacy organization. We are dedicated to advancing the goal of full equality and democracy for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico through statehood.