We’re asking you to contact your legislators and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act. We’re asking you to reach out to your friends who live in Florida, too, and ask them to tell their legislators the same thing. So what’s a cosponsor, and why does it matter?
A bill is introduced
Bills — that is, suggested new laws — are introduced in the House and in the Senate. Once the House approves a bill, the Senate must do the same. Then the president signs the bill and it becomes a law.
But it’s not as simple as tossing out a suggestion in a meeting and taking a vote. Ideally, bills don’t even come to vote until they have a good chance of passing. Legislators who want their bills to pass want to get plenty of cosponsors. Not only can they expect those cosponsors to vote for the bill, but seeing other people’s names on the bill as cosponsors makes it more likely that other members of Congress will also vote for the bill.
So the process of getting cosponsors is an important part of introducing and supporting a bill.
What’s a cosponsor?
The first person who introduces a bill is the sponsor of the bill. There can only be one sponsor. If a group of legislators introduce a bill, one is the sponsor and the others are “original cosponsors.” Then more lawmakers can add their names to the bill. They are also cosponsors.
They can remove their names from the bill, too, but usually bills get more cosponsors as time goes on. Additional cosponsors make a bill more attractive and show that it has support in Congress. Since only about 4% of bills ever become laws, having lots of cosponsors is an important way to make a bill stand out.
A new rule in Congress says that a bill that gets and keeps 290 or more cosponsors for a period of 25 legislative days gets a second chance to be voted on. It can be placed on a “Consensus Calendar” if the sponsor submits a motion in writing to the House Clerk asking for that. Almost every week, the Speaker has to schedule at least one item from the Consensus Calendar for consideration.
HR 1522 currently has 57 cosponsors. Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey just jumped on the bandwagon last week. Click the tweet below to thank him!Thank you, @BillPascrell, for supporting HR 1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Act! Click To Tweet
16 of Florida’s congressional reps are already cosponsoring HR 1522. We are proud of them. The rest of Florida’s delegation should get on the right side of history and join their colleagues as cosponsors. If you live in Florida, please contact your reps and let them know you want them to cosponsor HR 4901.
It’s time for statehood for Puerto Rico. This is one way we can bring the day closer.