Friday, June 25, 2021

Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act introduced in U.S. Congress

By on March 2, 2021

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announces the introduction of the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act (Screen capture)

Puerto Rico Gov, Resident Commissioner Tout Bipartisan Bill

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner in the U.S. Congress, Rep. Jenniffer González, and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), along with several other lawmakers introduced the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act. 

In a news conference on Capitol Hill moments after the bill was introduced Tuesday, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, who flew to Washington, D.C., for the event, spoke about statehood for the island and called on Congress to vote “yes or no” on whether to admit Puerto Rico as a state.

Soto said that on Nov. 3, 2020, Puerto Rico held a referendum during the island’s general elections and 52 percent of Puerto Ricans voted in favor of statehood. 

“We must recognize the majority has asked us for statehood and we must respect it,” Soto said. “So today, we act, today we introduce the Puerto Rico Admission Act. It establishes a framework for admission, including a presidential proclamation, upon its passage, a ratification vote, the election of U.S. senators, representatives and the continuity of laws, government and obligations.”

Soto said Puerto Ricans have decided that “enough is enough…that their territorial status, second-class citizenship isn’t working.”

“It’s time for change,” Soto said, adding that it was time to work with President Joe Biden and congressional leaders of both parties to advance the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act.

The bill proposes that Biden should proclaim the admission of Puerto Rico as a state within 12 months. Soto said the bill is supported by 36 democrats and 14 republicans, noting that “we reached 51 co-authors.”

For her part, González said that on “a day like today in 1917 [Puerto Ricans] obtained the U.S. citizenship, but still are not first-class citizens. We cannot vote for a commander in chief, we do not have four members of Congress, but yet Congress has all the power over us. Today is a great day in which we can have a bipartisan bill being introduced in the House with members of Congress fighting and acknowledging the results of the plebiscite.”

The resident commissioner called the legislation “a simple bill,” that would need to be passed in both chambers and have the president sign a proclamation.

“This is an issue which all Puerto Ricans agree is the future of the island,” González added.

Pierluisi, further said it was time for Congress to act on the moral and political imperative “conveyed by our clear message.”

“This bill presented by our resident commissioner, Jenniffer González, and our friend Darren Soto is the answer our people deserve,” Pierluisi stressed. 

On Tuesday as well, an ad was published in the New York Times supporting a bill by Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Alexandra Ocasio (D-NY), the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act. 

“If you’re only listening to the governor of Puerto Rico, you’re not even getting half the story,” the ad reads, urging readers to visit https://letsendcolonialismtogether.com.

“This is the sixth time statehood has been on the ballot since Puerto Rico ratified its Constitution in 1952. Voters rejected the status change in 19671993 and 1998,” political scientist Rashid Carlos Jamil Marcano wrote in a piece published in the Conversation. “The 2012 election results were unclear because some voters did not answer both parts of a two-part statehood question. In 2017 statehood won decisively, albeit with very low turnout of around 23%.”

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