House PASSES bill to give Puerto Rico a referendum on statehood: Sixteen Republicans join


The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday aimed at giving Puerto Rico freedom to choose whether it becomes a U.S. state or breaks off from the country completely. 

Sixteen Republicans joined 217 Democrats for a final vote tally of 233 to 191.

The vast majority of GOP lawmakers were opposed to the bill. Several shared concerns directly with DailyMail.com just before the final vote.

The legislation would allow Puerto Rico to hold its first-ever binding referendum on its sovereignty status.

Puerto Ricans could choose to become America’s 51st state, break off in total independence or an independent country with ties to the U.S.

But its Thursday passage was largely symbolic. The bill now advances to the Senate, where it is unlikely to get 10 Republican votes that are needed to pass. 

The GOP has long been opposed to Puerto Rico gaining statehood. 

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said at a public event recently that the territory gaining statehood ‘dilutes our power.’

But among the Republicans to celebrate the bill’s passage was Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon, Puerto Rico’s at-large representative in the House.

‘Today is a truly historic day for Puerto Rico. Ironically, it is also a perfect example of the island’s colonial reality,’ Gonzalez Colon said on the House floor just before the vote.

Puerto Rico's at-large Congressional representative spoke out in support of the bill on the House floor earlier on Thursday

Puerto Rico’s at-large Congressional representative spoke out in support of the bill on the House floor earlier on Thursday

She noted that she represents a territory of 3.2 American citizens – ‘more constituents than anybody in this chamber.’

‘And yet, while we consider a bill I helped write, a bill that will directly impact the life of every citizen I represent, I still must rely and depend on everybody here because I cannot vote on the floor,’ Gonzalez Colon said.

‘Today Congress takes a step towards finally assuming its responsibility…to provide the people of Puerto Rico with an opportunity, a federally binding choice, to democratically decide our future.’

But two members of her caucus told DailyMail.com that they were opposed to the bill, accusing it of being rushed through the House at the end of Democrats’ lame duck majority. 

A third, Rep. Randy Feenstra of Iowa, simply told DailyMail.com that he opposed the bill – but would not say why. 

Both Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana told DailyMail.com that House Democrats should focus on other issues like the southwestern border crisis with their final days in the majority.

‘First of all, have we even deliberated Puerto Rican statehood here? No. Once again, Speaker Pelosi just tosses stuff on the floor at the last minute,’ Donalds said just before entering the House chamber.

'First of all, have we even deliberated Puerto Rican statehood here? No. Once again, Speaker Pelosi just tosses stuff on the floor at the last minute,' GOP Rep. Byron Donalds fumed in comments to DailyMail.com

‘First of all, have we even deliberated Puerto Rican statehood here? No. Once again, Speaker Pelosi just tosses stuff on the floor at the last minute,’ GOP Rep. Byron Donalds fumed in comments to DailyMail.com

‘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?’

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

Banks spoke to DailyMail.com immediately after casting his ‘no’ vote. While he was in favor of Puerto Rican statehood on principal, the Indiana Republican shared reservations about how the bill was put together – and its implications for US taxpayers.

‘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 instead urged the majority party to work on solutions to the growing border crisis – just as a COVID-era expulsion policy is on the cusp of expiring.

Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898 following the Spanish-American war

Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898 following the Spanish-American war

‘There’s a lot more that should be focusing on…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.’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement lauding the bill’s passage.

‘Today’s historic vote is a key step toward ensuring that Puerto Rico’s future is one of its own choosing,’ Pelosi said.

‘For more than a century, Puerto Rico has been governed under a political system imposed by outside forces rather than established by its own people.’ 



Read More

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More