Saturday, November 26, 2022

Members of Congress Reach Compromise on Puerto Rico Status Bill

Members of the House of Representatives who authored competing bills on how to fix Puerto Rico’s territorial status in relationship to the U.S. have introduced a new piece of legislation combining both. House Majority Leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD., has led a months-long effort to get lawmakers on both sides of the debate to compromise under the Puerto Rico Status Act.

The initial draft of legislation combines the pro-statehood bill introduced by Rep. Darren Soto, D-FL., and Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez, a Republican who’s also Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member of Congress, with the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Nydia Velázquez, both Democrats from New York.

The legislation focuses on the idea that the “people of Puerto Rico must decide their future for themselves” in a binding and federally sponsored plebiscite with Congress serving as an initiator and facilitator of that process.

The compromise reached by lawmakers includes the definition of nonterritorial statuses as either statehood, independence, or sovereignty in free association, and describes the ways in which each would be potentially implemented.

The draft would also establish the creation of a nonpartisan, federally funded education campaign in preparation for the status vote. Additionally, Congress would have the obligation to implement what is described as “the clear majority of the will of the people of Puerto Rico.”

“This makes today a truly historic day for Puerto Rico’s future. It’s not perfect. It’s not all that Nydia wanted, it’s not all I wanted… but at least, we need to recognize there is a will from the members that are here to get things done,” stated Rep. Gonzalez, who’s pro-statehood.

NBC News