Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) and U.S. Representative Darren Soto (D-Fla.) today announced legislation to outline a clear process to enable Puerto Rico’s admission into the Union.
In November 2020, a majority of Puerto Ricans voted in favor of backing U.S. statehood. The Puerto Rico Admission Act will constitute Congress’s response to citizens in Puerto Rico and provide a formal offer of statehood.
Senator Heinrich sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that holds legislative jurisdiction over U.S. territories – including Puerto Rico.
“Last November, a majority of Puerto Ricans voted in favor of statehood and for full voting representation in the United States. Congress now has a moral responsibility to respond,” said Heinrich. “That’s why I’m proud to join Representatives González-Colón and Soto to announce bicameral legislation that will create a clear and direct path to formally admit Puerto Rico as a state.
“My home state of New Mexico had a similar struggle to achieve statehood. It took 50 New Mexico statehood bills and 64 years before we were finally admitted to the United States. It is long past due for the millions of American citizens living in Puerto Rico to get the representation that they deserve.”
As a territory, the federal government can—and often does—treat Puerto Rico unequally under federal laws and programs that are crucial to combat poverty and promote economic development. Additionally, since the island became a territory, more than 325,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the U.S. military.
The Puerto Rico Admission Act outlines a clear process to enable the Island’s admission into the Union, should it be ratified by Puerto Rico voters in a federally-sponsored, yes or-no referendum.
This is the exact same procedure established for Alaska and Hawaii prior to their admission as states and requires that Puerto Rico would be admitted on an equal footing with other states. The legislation also sets out a timeline for the future referendum vote, declaration of Puerto Rican statehood, and an election for the Puerto Rican Congressional Delegation.
“It is time for Congress to act on the moral and political imperative conveyed by our clear message. This bipartisan bill filed by our Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and our friend Congressman Darren Soto, is the answer our people deserve. I want to also thank Senator Heinrich for standing up for the people of Puerto Rico and introducing a statehood bill on the Senate side. These actions set forth the process for Puerto Rico to become a state of the Union,” said Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi.
“The next step is for the American citizens of Puerto Rico to express themselves in a congressionally sanctioned referendum offering statehood to our Island. Once the people of Puerto Rico reaffirm their desire for equal rights, the admission would take place, we will elect our Congressional delegation, and be ready to vote for President and Vice President. We deserve a seat at the table, we have earned it, and we will not stop until we get it”.