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U.S. Congress Shows Bipartisan Support for Puerto Rico Status Vote

Puerto Rico’s plebiscite is on Congress’s radar screen based on the comments of several members in recent days, who are urging strong participation in today’s vote.

“Puerto Ricans will have an opportunity this weekend to choose the future status of their island,” said House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) in a statement last week. “I hope they will vote for statehood and remain part of our country as a full and equal member of our union. Puerto Ricans, all American citizens, have been a part of the American family for generations, and ties between the island and the mainland run very deep. Ultimately, Congress must respect the decision of the Puerto Rican people as they raise their voices through the ballot box.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) also released a statement. ““Elections are the cornerstone of our American democracy and voter participation is our opportunity as individuals to uphold the values of freedom and liberty,” he said. “As our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico approach the unique opportunity to vote on the fundamental question of Puerto Rico’s future political status, I encourage all citizens to participate in this plebiscite on June 11 so their voices can be heard.”

Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) reiterated her support for the plebiscite, and said, “I personally hope they choose statehood.”

On the 100th anniversary of Puerto Rico’s acquisition of U.S. citizenship, Murphy said, “My personal hope is that they will choose statehood, so they have full voting rights and full equality.  Puerto Ricans have earned the right to become first-class citizens of the nation they have served with honor.”

Darren DeSoto (D-FL) echoed his colleagues’ emphasis on the responsibility of Congress to respect the result of the referendum. “I encourage my fellow citizens from Puerto Rico to participate in the plebiscite and I will strongly support its outcome,” he said. “As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee and the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, which has direct jurisdiction over Puerto Rican affairs, I want to reaffirm my commitment to advocate strongly for the federal government to honor and respect the wishes and will of the people of Puerto Rico.”

El Nuevo Dia reported that both Tom McArthur (R-NJ) and Don Young (R-AK) were also encouraging voter participation. “I strongly believe Puerto Rico has a right to self-determination,” Young said in a statement on his website, “and believe island residents deserve the opportunity to decide their own political future and relationship with the federal government.”

Young is serving as an election observer for the plebiscite.

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