Puerto Rico has been in a long battle to gain respect and rights within the United States government because of its status as a US territory. Currently, in a response to a majority of Puerto Rican citizens, there is a bill that aims to change their status. The bill was introduced by Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D) of Arizona in July 2022. The legal proposal intends to give Puerto Ricans the choice of statehood, independence, or free association, as well as a push for Congress to vote to change the status of the territory.
According to Grijalva, “There is a general understanding that legacies have to change and that the legacy of Puerto Rico being a colony for 124 years is a legacy that has to change. I think there will be a great deal of public initiative to move this forward and I hope the Senate pays attention.”
However, the bill needs to be passed in the US House before it is even considered in the Senate. The Republicans of the House have shown unified opposition to the bill. They proposed multiple amendments that undermine its intended effect. However, the amendments were voted down by Democrats.
Despite Republicans’ clear resistance, it is highly likely their support would be needed to pass the bill not only in the House but also in the Senate. Many Republicans have publicly shown their opposition.
Senator Ted Cruz (R) of Texas said, “I don’t think the people of Puerto Rico want independence. Their views should command a great weight.”
Despite Democrats’ strong push for a change, Republican senators continue to push back on statehood. Senator Roger Marshall (R) of Kansas said, “I think that 50 states is working pretty good right now, and I’d probably just leave it like it is.”
Without the support of Republicans, it is unlikely the required majority vote to pass the bill in both the House and Senate would be reached. This would directly derail any progress on solving Puerto Rico’s status.