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Sun Mar 7, 2021, 01:39 AM

Could Puerto Rico become a U.S. state? New bill in Congress faces an uphill battle

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO -- Florida Rep. Darren Soto and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González introduced a bill in the House of Representatives Tuesday that would enable Puerto Rico to be admitted into the United States as an American state — a proposal that faces an uphill battle, despite optimism from proponents that a Democratic-majority legislature might push the initiative forward.

The bipartisan bill establishes a process to allow the unincorporated territory to shed its 68-year-old commonwealth status. Island residents would participate in a federally binding election called by the governor to choose whether or not Puerto Rico should immediately be granted statehood. If the status option prevails, the U.S. president would declare the results and a date on which the island would become a state.

“Puerto Rico has been part of this nation since 1898, when through the Treaty of Paris, we passed from the Spanish government to the American government,” said González as she stood outside the U.S. Capitol alongside other lawmakers. “On a day like today in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson gave us American citizenship. Yet to this day, it is still a second-class American citizenship.”

The legislative push for Puerto Rico statehood comes after Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced he planned to fund elections for shadow representatives that would lobby for it in Washington. It also follows a November 2020 non-binding referendum, where 52.52% of voters voted “yes” for statehood — the sixth such vote since 1967.

Read more: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article249592598.html

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