Loading...

Proposed Puerto Rican Statehood Scheduled for a Vote in Congress

June 17, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
(Photo via Pixabay)

WASHINGTON — The chances for Puerto Rico to become the 51st U.S. state never seemed brighter than during a congressional hearing Wednesday, despite opposition from top Republicans.

Congress is expected to vote on a bill that proposes Puerto Rican statehood within days.

It is supported by Puerto Rico’s governor, a majority of the Caribbean island’s voters in a referendum last year and has won a qualified endorsement from the Biden administration.

“God has placed in your hands the opportunity to do justice to the people of Puerto Rico,” Rev. Carmen Cabrera, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Faith Council, told the House Natural Resources Committee.

Although she supports statehood, some lawmakers expressed deep reservations about possible culture clash.

In addition, 47.48% of Puerto Ricans voted against changing their status from a U.S. territory to a state in the 2020 referendum.

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., mentioned a recent poll showing 76% of Puerto Ricans would not want to abandon Spanish as their first language if they gain statehood.

“The language of the United States is English. Period,” McClintock said.

Rafael Cox Alomar, a professor of constitutional law at the University of the District of Columbia, said there was no constitutional obstacle to granting statehood, only “an issue of political will or the lack thereof.”

He added, “We have a heritage that is different from the Anglo heritage.”

None of the legal experts who testified doubted that Congress needed to re-evaluate Puerto Rico’s status with the United States. However, they disagreed on the form of the proposals.

The options are independence, statehood or an ongoing relationship as a U.S. territory.

A leading bill is the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act, H.R. 1522, which would submit the question to a final vote by residents, subject to ratification by Congress.

The other one is the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021, H.R. 2070, which proposes that delegates elected by Puerto Rican voters define their relationship with the United States. It also sets a procedure for Congress to decide whether to ratify any changes in status they choose.

A co-sponsor is Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y, who said, “It contains guarantees and mandates for a full information campaign so that Puerto Ricans know what they vote for.”

Currently, Puerto Rico has a governor as well as its own House of Representatives and Senate. Residents are U.S. citizens but have no voting representatives in Congress and cannot vote for president.

Puerto Rico is heavily Democratic, which means statehood likely would shift more power away from Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. is a leading critic of granting statehood.

A 2020 Democratic Party policy statement, which was endorsed by President Joe Biden, neither supports nor opposes Puerto Rican statehood.

“The people of Puerto Rico deserve self-determination on the issue of status,” the statement says.

Puerto Ricans have held several referendums on statehood since the island was acquired by the United States in 1898. No undisputed majority showed clear support for the proposals.

The 52.52% majority in the November 2020 referendum followed growing disillusionment with Puerto Rico’s territorial status after persistent economic failures as well as a lack of access to federal funds after disasters, such as Hurricane Maria and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A+
a-

Congress

December 3, 2021
by Dan McCue
Ethics Panel to Investigate Illegal Contribution Charges Against Fortenberry

WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Ethics has formed a panel to determine whether Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., is guilty... Read More

WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Ethics has formed a panel to determine whether Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., is guilty of accepting illegal campaign contributions, this on the heels of the Justice Department filing criminal charges against the nine-term congressman. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Penn., will serve... Read More

December 3, 2021
by Dan McCue
House Passes Stopgap Spending Extension Through Feb. 18

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday evening passed a stopgap spending bill that, if the Senate follows suit, will keep... Read More

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday evening passed a stopgap spending bill that, if the Senate follows suit, will keep the federal government running until Feb. 18. The vote was 221-212 with one Republican joining Democrats in approving the measure. It now moves on to the... Read More

December 2, 2021
by Dan McCue
DeFazio Stepping Down From Congress After 36 Years

WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is stepping down at the end of... Read More

WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is stepping down at the end of the current Congress. He told colleagues he decided not to seek a 19th term to have more time to look after his health and well-being after... Read More

December 2, 2021
by Dan McCue
House to Vote on Stopgap Spending Measure, Prospects in Senate Unclear

WASHINGTON — An agreement has been reached on a stopgap spending bill that will keep the federal government running until... Read More

WASHINGTON — An agreement has been reached on a stopgap spending bill that will keep the federal government running until Feb. 18. House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said the agreement on the continuing resolution was filed at 8 a.m. Thursday morning and that the... Read More

November 30, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Toy Safety Hazards Bring Warning From Senate as Christmas Nears

WASHINGTON — Trista Hamsmith told a Senate panel Tuesday the Christmas story no parent wants to endure. Her normally lively... Read More

WASHINGTON — Trista Hamsmith told a Senate panel Tuesday the Christmas story no parent wants to endure. Her normally lively daughter, a toddler named Reese, began coughing and exhibited difficulty breathing last year. A doctor diagnosed her with a common childhood respiratory infection called croup, gave... Read More

November 30, 2021
by Dan McCue
CBO Confirms: If Congress Fails to Act, Treasury Could Go Bust in Days

WASHINGTON — If the debt limit remains unchanged and the Treasury Department follows through on transferring $118 billion to the... Read More

WASHINGTON — If the debt limit remains unchanged and the Treasury Department follows through on transferring $118 billion to the Highway Trust Fund on Dec. 15, the federal government could run out of cash before the end of the month, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version