Puerto Rico Becomes 51st State?

Photo by Ana Toledo on Unsplash

On Thursday (December 15), the House passed legislation that — if passed — would allow Puerto Rico to choose its political status.

Titled the “Puerto Rico Status Act,” the legislation passed the House 233-191.
Democrats were joined by 16 Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

The 15 other GOP “yes” votes came from Reps. Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Bill Huizenga (Mich.), Bill Posey (Fla.), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA.), Dan Newhouse (Dave Joyce (Ohio), Don Bacon (Neb.), Fred Upton (Mich.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), John Katko (N.Y.), Lloyd Smucker (Pa.), María Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Mayra Flores (Texas), and Rodney Davis (Ill.)

Should the bill pass the Senate, a vote on a binding referendum would be enacted, allowing Puerto Ricans to decide if they want independence, independence with free association with the U.S., or statehood.

The measure would also create a non-partisan, impartial, federal government-funded campaign to educate Puerto Ricans leading up to the vote.

However, before the measure makes it to President Joe Biden’s desk, it faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where it will need to pass the 60-vote filibuster in the short time before Congress sunsets.

After being stalled in the chamber since July, the House set a date to vote on the legislation after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and a group of bipartisan lawmakers revealed they had reached a deal.

In a joint statement released Thursday, the group of legislators revealed the legislation had been drafted because of a shared belief that “Puerto Rico’s colonial status as a U.S. territory should not continue” and that the decision on its future “must belong to the people of Puerto Rico.”