The Puerto Rico Status Act now has a number: House Bill 2757. The bill, which is substantially the same as the Puerto Rico Status Act in the 117th Congress, is currently in committee, which is to say that it is being considered by the House Natural Resources Committee.
The U.S. Congress is divided into committees on the various subjects they are responsible for, including Puerto Rico and the other territories. Natural Resources is responsible for all the territories. Members of this committee have special knowledge of the natural resources of the United States. For example, Representative Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), who is the residential commissioner for Puerto Rico, is a member of this committee.
The idea is that a committee of particularly knowledgeable legislators will examine the new bill first, and use their expertise to make decisions about the bill, hold hearings, and even make changes before it goes to the full Congress for a vote.
This happened last year with the previous Puerto Rico Status Act.
Gonzalez-Colon has asked Bruce Westerman (R-AR), the current chair of the Natural Resources Committee, to hold hearings on House Bill 2757. Last time around, there were complaints that the compromise bill did not have hearings within the committee.
There were hearings on both of the bills that went into the production of the Puerto Rico Status Act, and there were public hearings held in Puerto Rico as well as online opportunities for citizens and organizations to comment, but some members of Congress wanted more hearings. Gonzalez-Colon and other bill sponsors want to have those hearings now.
The bill has six initial cosponsors:
- Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
- Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
- Representative Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR)
- Representative Darren Soto (D-FL)
- Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
- Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
Four of these — Velazquez, Gonzalez-Colon, Soto, and Hoyer — were also original cosponsors of HR 8393, last year’s Puerto Rico Status Act.
The number of cosponsors a bill receives is considered a sign of its likely success. Only about 4% of bills introduced in Congress ever become law. Having a large number of cosponsors, especially a bipartisan list, is beneficial for the bill.