So far, 91 members of Congress have sponsored or cosponsored H.R. 727, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Process Act. The bill provides for a vote in Puerto Rico on one simple question, “Shall Puerto Rico be admitted as a State of the United States? Yes__ No ___.”
This is the same question presented to Hawaii and Alaska when they voted to join the Union in the 1950’s.
The bill also sets out a clear process to make Puerto Rico a state if the voters once again vote for statehood.
Congress also approved the budget containing the funds to do these things.
So you can’t really say that Congress has done nothing about Puerto Rico’s status. Still… Puerto Rico voted for statehood in 2012, and has been a territory for more than a century, so it’s no surprise that many people are wondering why Congress hasn’t yet made Puerto Rico a state.
One of the most common answers to that question on Facebook and Twitter is that Republicans don’t want Puerto Rico’s congressional reps, who will all be Democrats. This is not true — read more about the idea that Puerto Rico is a predictable Blue State. Republican Presidents, governors, and other leaders have supported statehood in the past. What’s more, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party both favor self-determination for Puerto Rico: it says so in their platforms.
Another idea is that the people of Puerto Rico aren’t ready to become a state, but the fact that 54% voted against remaining a territory and 61% voted for statehood among the viable options tells us that this is not true.
Finally, some will say that the people on the mainland don’t want Puerto Rico to become a state. This is also not true, according to a Wall Street Journal poll:
In fact, accepting Puerto Rico as the 51st state could be a good way to improve the reputation of Congress with the rapidly growing Hispanic population of the U.S.
So what’s keeping Congress from taking action?
One possibility is that most members of Congress don’t know that their supporters care. There are 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 90 have cosponsored the bill with Rep. Pierluisi. That’s 345 members who need to hear from their constituents.
Has your congressperson joined in support of the bill? If so, why not write and say thank you? If not, it’s time to let them know that Puerto Rico’s status matters to you. Contact your legislators and let them know.