Republicans slam Democrats for pushing vote on Puerto Rico statehood, tell left to focus


EXCLUSIVE: Republicans slam Democrats for trying to jam through vote on Puerto Rico statehood while Congress should be focusing on the border crisis ahead of the end of Title 42

  • Two GOP lawmakers spoke briefly with DailyMail.com on Capitol Hill today 
  • They shared concerns about the House’s recently-passed Puerto Rico bill
  • Indiana Rep. Jim Banks said he supported Puerto Rican statehood but had issues with ‘how this is written’ and what burden it could put on US taxpayers
  • Florida Rep. Byron Donalds fumed about it being introduced ‘at the 11th hour’

Republican lawmakers are sounding off about their Democratic counterparts’ priorities as the year – and the left’s majority in the House – draws to a close. 

House Democrats passed a bill giving Puerto Rico the option to become a state or independent country on Thursday, in a historic though largely symbolic move.

The legislation has little chance of passing in the Senate, where at least 10 Republicans would be needed for it to pass, and it likely won’t be taken up in the new House of Representatives where the GOP will be in charge.

A pair of House Republicans sounded off to DailyMail.com about their frustrations with the long-shot bill. 

They urged their colleagues across the aisle to focus on more immediate issues like the budding crisis on the southern border with the little time they have left in the majority.

Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana told DailyMail.com just after voting ‘no’ on Thursday, ‘I’ve supported Puerto Rico- Puerto Rican statehood before.’

‘I’m concerned though, about how this is written – it would allow, for the way the vote would take place, to allow for Puerto Rico to become independent,’ Banks explained.

‘And then the U.S. taxpayer obligation if that would happen.’

He added that there was ‘a lot more’ the Democratic majority should be focused on.

Rep. Jim Banks told DailyMail.com that he had issues with the way the Puerto Rico bill was 'written' and urged Democrats to focus on the 'humanitarian crisis' at the border in the dwindling days of this Congress

Rep. Byron Donalds complained that the bill was introduced 'at the 11th hour'

GOP Reps. Jim Banks (left) and Byron Donalds (right) shared concerns about Democrats’ Puerto Rico bill and urged the left’s majority to focus on more immediate issues, like the border crisis

‘Most importantly, the crisis at the border and the repealing of Title 42,’ he said.

Banks called the surging number of migrants trying to cross the border the ‘biggest humanitarian crisis in American history, that [Democrats’] policies are directly responsible for, and they’ve continued to completely ignore it and act like it’s not happening.’

But he said it was a ‘reminder’ for why U.S. voters chose Republicans to take over the House of Representatives next year – to ‘do something about it.’

Meanwhile Florida Rep. Byron Donalds was concerned with how quickly the bill was put together.

‘First of all, have we even deliberated Puerto Rican statehood here? No,’ Donalds said just before entering the House chamber to vote.

‘Once again, Speaker Pelosi just tosses stuff on the floor at the last minute.’ 

He added, ‘There’s been no deliberation…I just think that’s the wrong way to go. Why are we doing this at the 11th hour of the 117th Congress?’

House Democrats are highly unlikely to bring any legislation to the floor that will deal with the border crisis before the expiry of Title 42 next week

House Democrats are highly unlikely to bring any legislation to the floor that will deal with the border crisis before the expiry of Title 42 next week

The COVID pandemic-era policy's end is expected to bring a surge of migrants to the southern border

The COVID pandemic-era policy’s end is expected to bring a surge of migrants to the southern border

Banks called the surging number of migrants trying to cross the border the 'biggest humanitarian crisis in American history'

Banks called the surging number of migrants trying to cross the border the ‘biggest humanitarian crisis in American history’

Asked what Democrats should focus on instead, Donalds said: ‘Securing the border.’

A surge of asylum-seekers and other undocumented migrants has overwhelmed border communities like El Paso, Texas. It comes less than a week before the court-ordered end of the Trump-era Title 42 expulsion policy.

The health rule, enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, allows border agents to turn people away upon contact in the name of slowing the spread of coronavirus.

A federal judge ordered the Biden administration to end it by midnight on December 21.

Earlier this week Axios reported that the Department of Homeland Security is bracing for as many as 14,000 people crossing the border per day after Title 42 is lifted. 





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