President Gerald Ford, Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, Submitting Proposed Puerto Rico Statehood Legislation, January 14, 1977. Since 1900, Presidents and Congresses have debated the question of statehood for Puerto Rico. Some progress has been made in providing the people of Puerto Rico with greater autonomy and a greater measure of self-government. But these great people are still not represented with a vote in either the House or Senate. They are still not represented in the election of a President. Full equality for the people of Puerto Rico cannot come without full representation. The social and economic progress to which they aspire cannot come without the political equality of statehood. Any change in the status of the Commonwealth must be accomplished by the mutual consent of the people of Puerto Rico and the United States. As Congress considers the appropriate course of action relating to the permanent status of Puerto Rico, it is essential that the dignity and self-respect of the great people of Puerto Rico be a matter of the highest consideration.