Puerto Rico House speaker: Statehood must be a priority in U.S. Congress’ agenda
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez called on the members of the new U.S. Congress to include in their legislative agenda, as a matter of priority, the issue of the island’s admission as a state.
In an opinion column published in the political website The Hill, the lawmaker asked U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to “put this vital issue on top of her legislative agenda and to start the admission process at once.”
“Ever since Hurricane María struck the island on September 2017, Democratic legislators on the Hill have condemned what they saw as an unequal response to the disaster by the federal government compared to Texas and Florida. Well now they have the opportunity to ‘correct’ that alleged disparity…. She can use Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-Utah) 2018 proposal, which is basically the same brought toward in SB 2020 which calls for a yes or no vote on the island’s statehood,” Méndez Núñez said.
He added that S.B. 2020 was introduced in 2014 by Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich (New Mexico) and Ron Wyden (Oregon) with the purpose of initiating the statehood process for the island.
The “Republican-controlled Senate must be active in this issue as well. I know that incoming Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), among many others, will be pressing the matter with a sense of urgency, at it should be. The Senate needs to move admission legislation this year,” the Puerto Rican lawmaker said.
In addition, Méndez Núñez said that if Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón introduces another statehood admission bill, it would be supported by many Republican members of Congress. He also stressed that the issue of admission cannot be tied to the political environment in Washington, D.C., which will be focused on the presidential election.
“In the months ahead, the new Congress will tackle a plethora of landmark legislation aimed at health care stabilization, the overhaul of several financial service industry regulations, infrastructure expending, pension reform and a possible cap for defense and domestic recurring spending if there’s no agreement on raising the federal debt limit by March 1, among many other issues…. But the matter of the political status of the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico must be a priority to the 116th Congress regardless of this historical time,” the speaker wrote.
Méndez Núñez called on the stateside Puerto Rican community, which exceeds 5.9 million, to exert pressure on their members of Congress. He stressed that the island’s residents must do the same in national media until admission is achieved.
“I, along with hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, will not rest until this matter is resolved.
“It’s time for Congress and White House to finally recognize the inequality of the current colonial system and their obligation to the U.S. citizens who reside in this Caribbean paradise. Give us equality. Grant us statehood now,” he concluded.
–Cybernews contributed to this report.