Congressional Democrats are reportedly preparing to make a last-ditch attempt to cram possible Puerto Rico statehood through before they lose control of the House.
The brainchild of outgoing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Puerto Rico Status Act would allow the island “to hold a binding referendum for Puerto Ricans to choose between statehood, independence, or independence followed by free association with the United States,” as reported on Wednesday by The Hill.
I’m pleased to announce that a bipartisan group of House Members, in cooperation with Puerto Rican officials, arrived at a consensus on the Puerto Rico Status Act. As Majority Leader, I will bring this critical bill to the House Floor for a vote tomorrow.
— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) December 14, 2022
Over the past several months, we came together to act on a belief that we all share: this historic legislation will grant Puerto Ricans the self-determination they deserve and allow them determine the future of their island themselves.
— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) December 14, 2022
Hoyer recognizes that the bill stands no chance of making it through the current Senate.
“You know, there’s slim prospects in the Senate, always. We passed a bill, as you recall some years ago, at my instance when I was majority leader the first time. That bill passed the House, it did not get consideration in the Senate,” he told reporters Thursday.
But he and his allies want to pass the bill anyway “to prove that the United States is moving in the right direction to respect the right to self determination for its colonized citizens and nationals,” according to The Hill.
“I think the bill has greater prospects in the Senate today. But at bottom is the principle that Americans and our country support, and that is the self-determination of peoples,” Hoyer explained in his own words.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, the bill’s sponsor, concurs.
“We have an opportunity here to deal with the colonial legacy — a legacy that should not be part of the governance of this nation of ours — and the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico deserve to have the same democratic principles that we believe in and swear to,” he reportedly said back in July
Congressional Republicans, for their part, appear to believe this whole effort makes no sense and is quite pointless.
“I do have to say, with only a few legislative days left in this Congress, no path forward in the Senate, I’m not sure why this matter warrants an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee when so many outstanding issues remain,” Rep. Michael Burgess said to Fox News.
As for members of the GOP base, they don’t believe the Democrats’ claims of just wanting to “decolonize” Puerto Rico. They think Democrats are pursuing this bill solely because they want more voting Democrat.
This is a trick. You don’t actually care about Puerto Rico. You’re just trying to rig the game with an extra D vote. It’s nothing but a power grab. If you want to make PR a state, carve out a red chunk of Texas to make 52 so it’s fair. If you won’t, that proves this is a grab.
— Sofia Jane Lugo (@veearrell) December 15, 2022
Democrats are hell bent on the U.S. becoming a one-party state so they can control all and turn us into a socialist disaster.
— Judy (@judylynne68) December 15, 2022
EVERYTHING Democrats do is for themselves.. this is something else they’re doing for more votes and power.
— Jeff (@FreedomAlways9) December 15, 2022
They want statehood so they get more Dem Senators. It is all about power
— LisaMo (@LisaMoMentor2) December 15, 2022
This bill is only critical for democrat power. No other reason
— Btrnobody (@btrnobody) December 15, 2022
The good news for Republicans — besides the bill’s poor prospects of making it through the Senate — is that it’s facing trouble from some congressional Democrats as well.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for instance, has been “proposing amendments perceived as poison pills by many of the bill’s supporters,” according to The Hill.
These “poison pills” inspired recriminations from Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, who’s reportedly played an instrumental role in brokering the deal.
“We arrived at agreements, and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t respect or validate or validate those agreements, after having been there for two press conferences — I think that’s an intention to water down the project so nothing is passed,” she told The Hill.
“It’s sad for a person who lives in New York, who doesn’t live in Puerto Rico, keeps in suspense 3.2 million U.S. citizens who live on the island, in a permanent colony,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez responded in true form by posting a childish tweet:
If she has something real to say she can tell me in person. We’ve been on the House floor all week and she hasn’t said a word to me.
Until then, I will treat this commentary for what it is: deeply unserious. Doesn’t bother me one bit and doesn’t deter me from progress. ✌ https://t.co/g3nidaSrt2
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 9, 2022
As of around noon Thursday, the bill was reportedly being voted on in the U.S. House:
#NOW: The House is voting whether to send the Puerto Rico Status Act back to the Natural Resources Committee.
The vote is set to last 15 minutes. pic.twitter.com/UvolTHqjQD
— Cristina Corujo (@cristina_corujo) December 15, 2022
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