The Borinqueneers, a Puerto Rican regiment of the U.S. army which distinguished itself in the Korean War, is one step closer to receiving the recognition they deserve.
On Monday, the House of Representatives passed legislation proposing to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to the regiment. The bill, H.R.1726, was introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R) of Florida along with Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D) of Puerto Rico. It had the support of 301 co-sponsors by the time of House floor consideration, from Robert Andrews (D) of New Jersey to Don Young (R) of Alaska. The uncontroversial measure passed by voice vote.
Late yesterday, the Senate version of the bill, S. 1174, gained the support of three Senators, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 67. This represents two thirds of the Senate – enough to put the bill on a fast track for quick Senate floor consideration. The bill could be voted on as early as tomorrow.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D) of Connecticut sponsored the Senate bill. The three most recent co-sponsors are Sen. Mark Udall (D) of Colorado, Sen. Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon, all of whom signed on the to bill on May 20, 2014.
Once the Senate approves the bill, President Obama is expected to sign it into law.
“Together,” said Rep. Pierluisi, “the House and Senate bills have obtained support from Members of Congress from 48 of the 50 states, all five territories, and the District of Columbia. ” The support has been bipartisan, demonstrating once again that concern for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico is a bipartisan issue.
The Borinqueneers were the only segregated active-duty Latino regiment in the U.S. Army. The valiant service of this regiment before and after Puerto Rico’s residents gained U.S. citizenship is particularly striking in light of the discrimination they faced. Puerto Rican soldiers continue to serve in an army for whose Commander in Chief they cannot vote.
For our summary on Puerto Rico’s history of military service, click here.