Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island is the newest cosponsor of S 780, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Bill in the Senate. This is the companion bill to the House’s HR 1522.
Senator Reed’s website presents a statement that explains Reed’s reasons for supporting statehood for Puerto Rico: “Senator Reed is a longtime champion for social justice who is dedicated to protecting people’s rights, promoting fairness, and ensuring everyone has access to opportunity and equal treatment under the law.”
Statehood is the only route to equality under the law for Puerto Rico.
But Reed has supported Puerto Rico before. He spoke up for disaster funding for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and in 2019.
As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a member of the Congressional Veterans Caucus, Reed is naturally aware of the fact that Puerto Rico sends more men and women into the U.S. military than most states. A former serviceman himself and a former teacher at West Point, Reed respects that commitment to the United States by the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico.
A letter to Senator Reed
Elected officials of Puerto Rican descent in Rhode Island wrote a letter to Reed and his colleague Senator Whitehouse saying, “Puerto Ricans have unquestionably demonstrated their preference for statehood, and we are proud to support them in their fight for equal rights under the law. Ending inequality and racial injustice wherever it is found is of the utmost national importance, and we urge you to consider supporting the expressed wishes of our fellow Americans by signing on to S-780 as a co-sponsor.”
The letter also said, “Despite their incredible contributions to our nation since the turn of the 20th century, the residents of Puerto Rico remain unable to vote for the President of the United States and have no voting representation in the Congress in which you serve. This is a particularly egregious circumstance in light of the openly racist case law that relegated Puerto Rico to its current colonial status.
Last November, Puerto Rican voters were asked a simple question: ‘Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately as a state? Yes or No.’ A 52.52 percent majority voted ‘Yes,’ making the referendum the third election within the past ten years in which voters chose statehood. The consensus in support of statehood is more clear now than ever. As elected officials who believe in American democracy, we believe it is critical we stand by the free democratic will of the people in open and fair elections.”
We thank Senator Reed for supporting the democratically-expressed will of the voters of Puerto Rico. We hope to see Senator Whitehouse respond to the call, too. Whitehouse is on record saying that he would vote for statehood for Puerto Rico. If you live in Rhode Island, please thank Senator Reed and urge Senator Whitehouse to stand up for S 780.