Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi declared In a recent interview that Congress has a responsibility to settle Puerto Rico’s status. He also said that he knows a new admissions bill for Puerto Rico will be introduced in Congress, perhaps within the next month.
Senator Richard Blumenthal(D-CT) appears to have listened to the Governor of Puerto Rico and is taking him seriously.
“The whole point here is fairness and equal representation for the people of Puerto Rico, who are Americans,” Blumenthal told the Hartford-Courant, a Connecticut news outlet. “I’m strongly supportive of statehood if the people of Puerto Rico want it, and apparently, they do, according to votes that have been taken recently.”
While American voters may imagine that a bill is introduced in Congress, discussed, and voted on in a simple process, the reality is much more complex. Only about 4% of bills become law, and most never reach a vote.
One of the important elements of getting a bill passed is gathering cosponsors from among the legislators in Congress. A single Member of the House or senator may introduce a bill. Delegates from U.S. territories may also do so. The person who introduces the bill is the sponsor of that bill.
Before introducing the bill, the sponsor may look for cosponsors, other legislators who will support that bill. Gathering plenty of cosponsors before introducing the bill can show the strength of the support for the bill.
Admissions bills for Puerto Rico are typically bipartisan in nature, with cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. This can be helpful to show that a vote will not break down along party lines.
Cosponsors continue to be added to bills after they are introduced, as well.
Senator Blumenthal has a history of supporting Puerto Rico. He often called for aid to be released to Puerto Rico following the 2017 hurricane season and the 2020 earthquakes. He visited Puerto Rico and spoke in support of the Island and its residents.
While he has not previously spoken out for statehood, Blumenthal has supported a vote for determination of status at least since 2013, when he spoke with Pierluisi, then the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, about holding a federally-sponsored plebiscite. “I’m inclined to support a vote by the people of Puerto Rico as a vote for their voices to be heard,” he said at that time.
Blumenthal’s constituents in Connecticut contain one of the nation’s highest concentrations of people of Puerto Rican heritage.
Blumenthal has also cosponsored legislation for statehood for Washington, D.C.