Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon touted support of her recently introduced Puerto Rico admission legislation this morning from the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Her unofficial remarks are copied below:
On June 27, I was joined by more than 40 members of this house in introducing H.R. 42 — 6246, the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018. That number has since grown to almost 50 members. This is truly a bipartisan bill that sets forth a process that will result in the formal — into a permanent union with the rest of the states. H.R. 6246 will help Puerto Rico who twice in the past six years have overwhelmingly voted in 97% and 61% expressing their political will to join their fellow Americans as equal inure union — after 101 years as American citizens, Puerto Rico was denied the same rights and responsibilities as our fellow citizens in the states. Puerto Ricans did not enjoy a democratic form of government at the national level because we can vote for the president and we can vote for the vice president of the United States. We don’t have a voting representation here in this congress that every day passes laws that affect us and affect our future.
The lack of a democratic government at the local level is also due to the Congress passing PROMESA in 2017. This lack of full participation in the federal government that enacts the laws and rules that Puerto Rico lives under combined with the absolute power of the US congress under article 4, section 3, clause 2 of our constitution, to treat us equally under those laws has proven to be a fundamental limitation on the fulfillment of our potential as people. The combination of these inequities, which were further exacerbated by last year’s historic hurricanes, led to arbitrary federal policies that limited the island’s opportunities to maximize our full economic potential. I’m certain that not even one of my stateside colleagues in this congress will accept a territorial status like Puerto Rico for their own constituents. It is my hope that then all of them who recognize and respect that the people of Puerto Rico are no longer willing to accept it either. I also trust that my colleagues will credit Puerto Rico for aspiring to have the first-class citizenship and equality they have been denied over a century. My constituents may not have a vote in the government that makes their national laws but they have a voice and they have made that voice heard loud and clear not just once, but twice.
Every member who supports H.R. 6246 will send a clear message that he or she is standing up for a principle that the people of Puerto Rico are American citizens who have in war and peace made countless contributions and greatly enriched the life of this nation for generations. More than 250,000 Puerto Ricans have served in our military forces and bravely fought in every conflict since the great war. Side by side with the citizens of other states. Defending our democratic values all over the world. And yet they’re denied the right to vote for their commander in chief. A large number of them have made the ultimate sacrifice in battle and when they do, their caskets are flown back to this country draped in an American flag that contains just 50 stars, but none of those represent them and represent Puerto Rico. Furthermore, those returning to the island and join the ranks of over 100,000 veterans living on the island and — discriminates them and treats them as a second-class citizen. This is the reason I hope that those inequities that has shown more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans have gone to the states for search of equality.
This truly bipartisan bill will let Puerto Rico become the 51st state of the nation. I urge my colleagues to join me on this bill and acknowledge the situation in Puerto Rico and let us become a first-class U.S. citizen. Thank you and I yield back.