Senator Martin Heinrich is planning to introduce the Senate companion to H. R. 2757, the Puerto Rico Status Act, this week. This bill is a crucial step towards ending nearly 125 years of territorial inequality. Along with Senators Alex Padilla and Catherine Cortez Masto, Heinrich will present the companion bill in the U.S. Senate.
“The Puerto Rico Status Act authorizes a federally sponsored plebiscite to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status. The legislation details the transition to and implementation of a non-territory status for Puerto Rico— Statehood, Independence, or Sovereignty in Free Association with the United States—that is chosen by a majority of voters in Puerto Rico,” says a statement at Heinrich’s website. “The Puerto Rico Status Act was drafted with extensive input from members of Congress; local elected government officials; citizenship, immigration, and constitutional law experts; and hundreds of residents of Puerto Rico.”
Puerto Rico Status Act
The Puerto Rico Status Act passed the House last December, but it was too late in the year to make it through the Senate. Bills must be passed in both the House and the Senate to become law. Once Sen. Heinrich introduces his companion bill, the legislation will be in both branches of Congress. Both can pass the law, and it will then go to President Biden’s desk. he has committed to signing it.
This bill calls for a binding referendum in Puerto Rico. Previous voted have not been binding. Congress has had the option of ignoring them, and has taken that option. Under the Puerto Rico Status Act, Puerto Rico will no longer be a territory of the United States. It will either be a state, or an independent nation, with or without a Compact of Free association with the United States.
According to El Nuevo Día, Governor Pierluisi has asked Sen. Joe Manchin to authorize Cortez Masto to convene a public hearing on the status question as part of the work of the Natural Resources committee.
This has been a long time coming. But residents of Puerto Rico have no senators. If you live in a state, please tell your senators that you want see them on the right side of history. Tell your friends and family to reach out to their senators as well. Together, we can end more than a century of inequality for Puerto Rico.