UPDATED 5:25 PM PT – Thursday, December 15, 2022
The U.S. House has passed a bill that would allow Puerto Rico to hold its first binding referendum on whether to become a state or gain independence on Thursday.
Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) commented on the subject.
“It is crucial to me that any proposal in Congress to decolonize Puerto Rico be informed and led by Puerto Ricans,” said Grijalva.
The bill passed 233-191 with some Republican support. If voters on the island are to approve it, Congress would be committed to accept Puerto Rico into the United States as the 51st state. Voters, however, do have the choice to vote for outright independence or independence with free association. The terms for that would be outline following negotiations over foreign affairs, U.S. citizenship and use of the U.S. dollar.
This proposal has exasperated many people on the island which already has held seven non-binding referendums on its status with no overwhelming majority on any of them. The last of which was in November 2020 with 53% of votes for statehood and 47% against.
Puerto Rican attorney, Pablo Jose Hernandez Rivera, said that approval of the bill by the House would be “inconsequential” like previous bills of 1998 and 2010.
“We Puerto Ricans are tired of the fact that the New Progressive Party has spent 28 years in Washington spending resources on sterile and undemocratic status projects,” Rivera said.
The bill will now go to a split Senate where it would need to be passed before the end of the year deadline.