Today at 1:00 Eastern time, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on Puerto Rico’s political status. Or rather, on two bills on that subject which have been introduced in Congress:
- H.R. 1522 (Rep. Darren Soto), To provide for the admission of the State of Puerto Rico into the Union. Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act.
- H.R. 2070 (Rep. Nydia Velázquez), To recognize the right of the People of Puerto Rico to call a status convention. Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021
HR 1522 responds to the 2020 status referendum, in which a clear majority of voters chose statehood, by calling on Congress to offer statehood to Puerto Rico, conditional on a vote of ratification on the Island.
HR 2070 ignores the vote by the people of PuertoRico and calls for a brainstorming session by elected delegates from Puerto Rico and an appointed Congressional commission to develop an unlimited number of status options to be presented to Puerto Rico. There are many lengthy and complex rules for the process, but it requests Congress to ratify the choice of the voters. If Congress does not ratify the vote, the status convention can try again.
We will not pretend that these two bills are equal in value and seriousness. As a large number of scholars have pointed out, the only viable status options for Puerto Rico are that of territory, state, and independent nation.
Raúl M. Grijalva, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, has promised “not to put his thumb on the scale.” However, the elected leaders of Puerto Rico support HR 1522 and oppose HR 2070.
The witnesses planned for today’s hearings are divided into supporters of each Bill:
H.R. 1522 (Rep. Soto), “Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act”
- The Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi, Governor of Puerto Rico
- Ms. Johanne Vélez-García, Vice President, Puerto Rico Democratic Party
- Mr. José Fuentes, Chair, Puerto Rico Statehood Council
- Dr. Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
H.R. 2070 (Rep. Velázquez), “Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021”
- The Hon. Rafael Hernández, Speaker, Puerto Rico House of Representatives, Popular Democratic Party
- The Hon. María de Lourdes Santiago, Vice President, Puerto Rican Independence Party
- The Hon. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, Former Governor, Popular Democratic Party
- The Hon. Manuel Natal, President, Citizens Victory Movement
What can you do to support this hearing, and to support HR 1522?