Historic Bipartisan Support For Puerto Rican Self Determination & Statehood

On October 21, 1966, Congressman John P. Saylor (R-PA) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives about bipartisan legislation he co-sponsored that sought to provide “for the admission in the Union on an equal footing with the original states, of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.” Congressman Saylor asserted that the door for Puerto Rican statehood would be open whenever Puerto Ricans requested it. Saylor further expressed that he and his colleagues in Congress “are ready to welcome them to full citizenship when by plebiscite they ask for statehood.”

This floor statement and the legislation from the 89th Congress are significant for several reasons, the first of which is the historic, bipartisan support for Puerto Rican statehood demonstrated by this bill. In his remarks, Congressman Saylor listed several of the co-sponsors, which included the at-large Democratic representative from Alaska, several northeastern Democratic representatives, and Republicans from Ohio, New York, and Maryland. One co-sponsor, Congressman Rogers Morton, went on to serve as the Secretary of the Interior under President Richard Nixon and later as Secretary of Commerce under President Gerald Ford.

The Congressional Record from the 89th Congress demonstrated support for Puerto Rican self-determination. Congressman Saylor and the bipartisan co-sponsors to the legislation made it clear they were not trying to force statehood on Puerto Rico, but rather supported admitting the territory into the Union, should it be the will of the Puerto Rican citizens. As Rep. Saylor stated, “No one of the sponsors of this Puerto Rican statehood legislation wants to coerce our island friends to accept a status they do not want, but we do want them to know the invitation has been issued.”

Read the full statement made by Congressman John Saylor in the 89th Congress.

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