Puerto Rico Cleared To Run Referendum on Statehood

Puerto Rico Cleared To Run Referendum on Statehood

(UnitedVoice.com) – Puerto Rico became a US territory in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. That gave America some control of the island but still allowed the tiny nation to maintain some independence.

Lawmakers have long debated both in America and on the island over whether it should become the 51st state. Recently, a bipartisan group of lawmakers passed legislation that would allow the island’s citizens to decide once and for all what they want to do. Not everyone is on board with the idea.

Puerto Rico’s Decision

On Thursday, December 15, the House of Representatives voted on the Puerto Rico Status Act. The bipartisan bill would end the island’s territory status. The act was a combination of two pieces of legislation.

The first was the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act, a bill introduced by New York Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D). That legislation would have created a status to decolonize the island. The second of the two bills was a pro-statehood bill.

The Puerto Rico Status Act lays out the island’s options moving forward: Sovereignty in Free Association with the US, Statehood, and Independence. It’ll provide funding to teach residents about each of the possibilities. The people living there would need to take several other steps to move toward an independence referendum.

Essentially the bill allows Puerto Ricans to choose if they want to become a state, be independent, or if they want independence with a free association with the US. The country would have to negotiate US citizenship, use of the US dollar, and foreign affairs issues, depending on the option they pick. They’d have to figure out what they want to do by November 2023.


The bill passed the House by a vote of 233-191. All of the no votes were from members of the Republican Party concerned by the implications of the legislation. Sixteen conservatives voted with Democrats to pass the bill.

According to The Hill, a bipartisan group of lawmakers released a statement saying they believe the island’s “colonial status as a US territory should not continue.” Instead, they want the people living in the tiny country to decide what they want to do. The group stated that many of the lawmakers who support the step forward “disagree on what that future should look like” but still think Puerto Ricans should choose what happens next.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) opposed the legislation because lawmakers didn’t debate it in committee. She accused Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of not thoroughly reviewing and debating the legislation. Additionally, she doesn’t support giving the island independence.

Do you support allowing Puerto Rico to decide whether to become a state or independent?

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