After statehood vote, some activity in Congress
Following the recent status vote, Puerto Rican statehood is making its way into the US Congress. Puerto Rico’s delegate to Congress, Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, had presented a bill championing statehood, House Bill 260, on January 4, 2017, but it was never discussed. It was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee of Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs, where it has sat for the past six months.
However, following the vote, on June 16, the bill generated some interest when Representative Darren Soto, a democrat representing Florida’s 9th district, added his name to the bill as a cosigner. This move is hopefully indicative of more interest in the bill, and future movement.
Many other Senators and Representatives have made their support known via official statements, such as Representatives Young and Hoyer, of Alaska and Maryland respectively. In their joint statement, Rep. Young stated that “I think it is time that America should stop colonizing. If I am not mistaken, this is the last Nation that has a colony. The great America of the United States has a colony, and I think it is time that we change that. Vote in Congress to make sure that we have the 51st State.”
Senator Wyden of Oregon released a statement as well, stating that “Congress needs to begin looking at ways to fulfill the wishes of these fellow Americans, as it has for all previous territories that voted for statehood.”
These strong statements of support and interest in the HR 260 show that many in Congress are willing to listen to what the American citizens of Puerto Rico decided in the vote, and to push their colleagues in the direction of a decision quickly.