Jenniffer González-Colón files bill to admit Puerto Rico as a state

by | Jun 27, 2018 | Congress, Headlines, Status | Comments

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R, NPP) introduced today the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018, which charts the path for the decolonization of Puerto Rico and its entry into the Union as a State no later than January 1. 2021.

“Now is the time. The catastrophe left behind by Hurricanes Irma and María unmasked the reality of the unequal treatment of the American living in Puerto Rico, forcing the Executive to approve waivers and Congress to make exceptions so that we could receive help. My colleagues saw firsthand the effects of this unequal treatment due solely to our territorial situation. Statehood is nothing else than Equality; and this Admission Act provides the means to put into effect the values of Democracy and Respect upon which our Nation is built,” said González-Colón.

In attendance at the presentation of the Admissions Act were representatives: Rob Bishop (R), chairman of the Natural Resources Committee; Don Bacon (R); Peter T. King (R); Don Young (R); Amata Coleman Radewagen (R); Doug LaMalfa (R); José Serrano (D); and Stephany Murphy(D); the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló (D, NPP); the President of the Senate of Puerto Rico, Thomas Rivera Schatz (NPP); senators, representatives and mayors from Puerto Rico and Ms. Zoraida Fonalledas (R) attended as Shadow Senator of the Equality Commission.

For his part, the Governor stated that “the fight for Puerto Rico’s Equality is one of civil rights. In Washington, they can no longer ignore Puerto Rico’s claim for statehood which we have been making for years. It is our public policy to advance the equal treatment of all citizens residing in Puerto Rico. It has been our constant appeal to President Trump and to Congress that they validate the democratic will of the People of Puerto Rico and admit the colonial territory as the 51st state of the union. Just a few days ago, we passed the one year anniversary since Puerto Ricans used the democratic method of voting to demand, once again, the solution to many of our problems by appealing for statehood with 97% of the vote. Today, we file the Admissions Act, fulfilling another of our commitments,” he said.

The governor added, “I acknowledge the leadership of our Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer González-Colón, who has done an important job here in the federal capital carrying the message of equality at all times. We will continue to work hard to achieve the mandate of the People and— together with the Resident Commissioner, our Office in Washington, as well as the Puerto Rico Equality Commission— obtain full equality.”

“This year, we celebrate 120 years as a territory of the United States and 525 years as the oldest colony in the world. There is no reason to wait any longer to end this unequal treatment of the American who reside in Puerto Rico. This inequality has caused the massive exodus of our residents, causing 5.4 million Puerto Ricans to currently reside in the 50 states. 250,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the Armed Forces without being able to elect their Commander-in-Chief. My constituents do not have representation in the U.S. Senate and only have the right to a single representative in the House without the right to vote despite being the Member of Congress representing the largest number of Americans,” added the resident commissioner.

34 members of Congress joined Jenniffer González-Colón as original co-sponsors of the bill. For the Republicans Rob Bishop of Utah;  Don Young of Alaska; Sean Duffy of Wisconsin; Thomas MacArthur of New Jersey;  Elise M. Stefanik of New York; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida; Amata Radewagen of American Samoa; Jim Banks of Indiana; Don Bacon of Nebraska; Carlos Curbelo of Florida; Peter T. King of New York;  Ron DeSantis of Florida); Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida; Ted S. Yoho of Florida; Brian K. Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; Claudia Tenney of New York; Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho; Ryan A. Costello of Pennsylvania; John Denham of California; Scott Taylor of Virginia; and David A. Trott of Michigan).

For the Democrats: Stephanie Murphy of Florida; Gregorio Sablan of Northern Marianas; Darren Soto of Florida; James P. McGovern of Massachusetts; Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut; Joyce Beatty of Ohio; Anthony Brown of Maryland; Gene Green of Texas; Jamie Raskin of Maryland); Juan Vargas of California; Donald S. Beyer of Virginia; Madeleine Z. Bordallo of Guam; Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida; and Stacey Plaskett of the US Virgin Islands.

The Admission Act is the second legislative recourse filed by the resident commissioner during her first term as Puerto Rico’s sole representative in Congress. This new version seeks to enforce the will of the voters of Puerto Rico, as expressed in the last two referendums on status, where statehood prevailed overwhelmingly.

As part of the transition process, a Congressional Task Force on Equality for American Citizens of Puerto Rico is to be created which must, before January 1, 2021, accomplish the following:

  1. Study and make recommendations to the US Congress and to the President regarding those amendments to or repeal of the laws of the United States that apply differently to Puerto Rico than to the states;
  2. Make recommendations on temporary economic measures to help Puerto Rico in the transition from territory to state;
  3. Propose rules and dates for elections to federal posts on the islands;
  4. Study the effect to the US House of Representatives of admitting Puerto Rico as a State.

The Task Force is to be composed of nine members who must be appointed no later than 30 days after the approval of the bill: two members appointed by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives; two members appointed by the Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives; two members appointed by the Leader of the Majority of the Senate; two members appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate; and the resident commissioner.

The task force will be chaired by the member chosen by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Federal agencies and departments must collaborate with the task force, providing data, technical assistance, opinions and anything else required to comply with the statute’s mandate.

The task force must submit a preliminary report to the US Congress and to the President of the United States no later than 270 days after it is instituted, and a final report no later than 120 days after delivering the preliminary report.

The Congress must act on these recommendations no later than January 1, 2021. This includes repealing the laws applicable to Puerto Rico that conflict with the new status, such as Law 600 of 1950; Law of July 3, 1950, the Foraker Act and the Jones Act.

After the transition process, and no later than January 1, 2021, the President of the United States must issue a Proclamation declaring that Puerto Rico has ceased to be an incorporated territory of the United States and will be admitted to the union as a state.

The State of Puerto Rico will consist of all its islands, as well as the corals and bodies of water surrounding it.

There will be continuity of government and officials with positions within the executive, legislative and judicial branches will continue in their posts, carrying out their responsibilities, for the remainder of their terms. All local laws will remain in force, except those that become inapplicable under the new status, which must be repealed or amended by the Legislature of Puerto Rico and the Governor.

All federal laws will remain in force except those that treat Puerto Rico or its residents differently, which must be amended as of the date of the admission of Puerto Rico as a State to provide for treatment equal to the other States of the Union.