A Florida congressman and Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress have introduced a bill that seeks to make the U.S. territory the 51st state.
The Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2019, which is sponsored by Rep. Darren Soto, D-Florida, and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, would give the island statehood within 90 days of passage.
“This bill is about respecting democracy and equality in Puerto Rico,” Soto said during a news conference. “Our historic legislation will finally end over 120 years of colonialism and provide full rights and representation to over 3.2 million Americans.“
The legislation is partly in response to the Trump administration’s handling of Hurricane Maria relief efforts. According to reports, President Trump complained to Senate Republicans about the amount of disaster aid designated for Puerto Rico. He also asked why the island was given more money than some states affected by hurricanes.
“We have seen time and time again that colonial status is simply not working. Look no further than the abysmal Hurricane Maria recovery efforts and the draconian PROMESA law to prove this point all too well,“ Soto added. “The Puerto Rican people have spoken. It’s time for Congress to finally make Puerto Rico a state!“
“From the day I was sworn in as Puerto Rico’s sole representative in Congress, and filed the Puerto Rico Admission Act, I stated very clearly that I would work different strategies, across all platforms to achieve the full equality for Puerto Rico, which can only be achieved through statehood,” said González-Colón.
“For more than a century the people of Puerto Rico have been U.S. citizens, but has been denied the right to vote for the President and members of Congress, leaving us without representation in the federal government, which enact the laws that rule the land. Democracy and equality for American citizens is an issue of justice and civil rights. Us, as American citizens, want to have the same benefits and duties, as all American citizens have in the states,“ she continued.
Governor Ricardo Rossello was also in attendance and called on memeber of Congress to support the bill and “join in our quest to achieve equal treatment for the over 3 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.”