The House of Representatives on Thursday approved the Puerto Rico Status Act, a new bill that proposes providing the Caribbean island’s residents with a binding referendum to determine whether to become a US state, an independent nation, or a related To become sovereign.
Puerto Rico has been a US territory since 1898, and although its 3.2 million people are US citizens, they do not have the right to vote in presidential elections, do not pay federal income tax on money earned on the island, and do not participate in certain federal programs. are eligible for, a position that has long been controversial.
The bill, known as HR 8393, was co-sponsored by New York Democrat Nidia Velasquez and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon and was first approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources of Representatives in July.
“After 124 years of colonialism, Puerto Ricans deserve a fair, transparent and democratic process to finally resolve the issue of status,” Velasquez Tweeted after the House vote was announced on Wednesday.
Outgoing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also defended the bill, saying, “This landmark legislation will give Puerto Ricans the self-determination they deserve and allow them to decide the future of their island.”
He managed to get the majority he needed in the House. The next step is for him to get at least 60 votes in the Senate, a tall order, before he can get Joe Biden’s signature.
The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a statement Thursday expressing its support for the bill: “For too long, residents of Puerto Rico (more than 3 million US citizens) have had the right to decide their own political future.” have been denied the opportunity and, by reason of their residence in the territory of the United States, have been denied the full rights and benefits of their citizenship.”
“HR 8393 would take a historic step to correct this injustice by establishing a process to determine the will of Puerto Rico’s voters with respect to three constitutional options for non-territorial status: statehood, independence, and union with the United States.” Sovereignty in free association. State. ”.
“The Administration looks forward to working with Congress throughout the legislative process to ensure that this bill is consistent with our nation’s democratic principles. The President urged Congress to place the future of Puerto Rico’s political situation in the hands of Puerto Ricans. Urged to act quickly to keep him where he is.
However, time is running out as lawmakers face a plethora of legislative agendas before the Christmas recess on Friday, December 23, after which a new Republican-controlled House will be sworn in on Tuesday, January 3, and Any pending work has to be completed. Start again from scratch.
“There’s never a bad time to do the right thing. I want to do the right thing,” Hoyer told reporters Tuesday, insisting that a victorious vote in the House would be little more than a symbolic victory for the Puerto Rican independence movement. Could
In recent weeks, controversy has erupted around the bill following a spat between New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Gonzalez-Cologne after previously proposed amendments.
“We made agreements, and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez does not honor or verify those agreements. She was present at two press conferences; I think she wants to undermine the project so nothing is approved,” Gonzalez- cologne told hill,
“It’s sad that a person who lives in New York, who doesn’t live in Puerto Rico, has 3.2 million American citizens who live on the island, in a permanent colony, in suspense.”
Representation reacted angrily On Twitter, telling the Resident Commissioner: “If he has anything concrete to say, let me know in person… Until then, I’ll take this comment for what it is: very serious.”
The bill has also been criticized for lacking precise details regarding several issues, such as whether Spanish or English should be the official language of Puerto Rican courts and statehood for schools.
Translation by Michelle Padilla