Legislation requiring the President to propose legislation to transition Puerto Rico to statehood if Puerto Ricans so choose in a federally sponsored vote has now been endorsed by 120 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Authored by the territory’s elected representative to the Federal government, Pedro Pierluisi (statehood party), who sits in the House as a Democrat, the bill has more support among Republicans than all but three other bills authored by a Democrat.
There have been 2,977 bills introduced in the House during this Congress, which began in January. Only 74 have 115 cosponsors or more, meaning that the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act, H.R. 2000, has more sponsors than 97.6% of all House bills.
Moreover, of those 74 bills, only 59 have bipartisan support. So, H.R. 2000 has more bipartisan support than 98.1% of bills introduced.
Interestingly, one-sixth of the sponsors signed on since two members of the House, Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) and Nydia Velazquez (D-New York), wrote House members July 23rd in opposition to the bill. Their letter echoed opposition in a letter to House members by Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla (“commonwealth” party) followed by energetic efforts against the bill by lobbyists hired by Garcia.
The letters and lobbying, however, did not state an objection to anything that the bill would do. Instead, the opposition disputes the political status plebiscite held in Puerto Rico along with the territory’s quadrennial elections last November.
The plebiscite rejected the ballot option for which Governor Garcia campaigned — continuation of the current territory status — by 54%, and chose statehood among the possible alternatives by 61.2%. Independence and nationhood in an association with the United States that either nation could end split the rest of the vote.
Garcia wanted his party’s proposal for an unprecedented governing arrangement included among the options. The proposed new “commonwealth status” was not put on the ballot, though, because Federal officials from the Clinton to the Obama Administrations have reported that the proposal is impossible for constitutional and other reasons.
Members of the lead U.S. Senate committee on the issue, Energy and Natural Resources, reiterated this during a hearing on the plebiscite and its results last Thursday. They emphasized that the Puerto Rico status issue — the territory’s central issue — could only be resolved though statehood or nationhood.
Substantial public support for the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act has also been demonstrated. The bill has the second-highest number of supporters among all House bills on the Website established House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) for Americans to express support for legislation, www.cosponsor.gov. As of this writing, it has 1,319 citizen “cosponsors.”
See the infographic below for a visualization of some of the data regarding the bill’s support.