There are currently two bills on Puerto Rico status being considered in Congress, and specifically in the House Natural Resources Committee:
The two bills seem to be in direct conflict with each other. HR 1522 recognizes the November 2020 referendum, in which a majority of voters chose statehood. It calls for a ratification vote, this time with Congressional awareness in advance.
HR 2070 ignores the referendum and calls for a status convention to choose ballot options for another referendum, to take place sometime in the future. While the sponsors claim it is not anti-statehood, this proposal has been the preference of advocates for unconstitutional “commonwealth” options for many years, given the decades of analysis on all viable “options” for Puerto Rico, a convention is often viewed as simply a delay tactic.
Puerto Rico’s political parties
While there are Democrats and Republicans supporting both bills, the political parties of Puerto Rico are clearly divided between them. The statehood party favors HR 1522 and the “commonwealth” party favors HR 2070.
Puerto Rico also has an Independence Party, but they get fewer votes than the Green Party or the Libertarian Party in the states. They are traditionally included in discussions of Puerto Rico’s political parties, but they are not spearheading either of the bills.
In the U.S. Congress, there are some who are co-sponsoring both bills.
They may also simply want to see some kind of action on Puerto Rico’s status and be open minded about the mechanism involved. The dual sponsors include:
- Katie Porter (D-CA)
- Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM)
- Jared Huffman (D-CA)
- Michael San Nicolas (D-GU)
- Anthony Brown (D-MD)
HR 2070 has 76 co-sponsors and HR 1522 has 72.
None of the individuals supporting both bills has made a statement explaining their decision, but it is possible that others will follow as members get up to speed on the issue. For example, a letter signed by a large group of prominent Constitutional scholars, which was released after the introduction of both bills, may encourage current members of HR 2070 to also join HR 1522. The scholars, led by Harvard Law professor Larry Tribe and Columbia Law School scholar Christina Ponsa-Krause, conclude that HR 2070 is unconstitutional.