Puerto Rico could become next U.S. state after a vote in the House of Representatives

Image of the House of Representatives in Washington DC. Credit: Google maps - Carloso Carloso

If a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives returns a positive result it could pave the way for the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico to become the next American state.

 

Voting will take place in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington DC today, Thursday, December 15, which could eventually result in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico becoming the next American state. Nydia Velazquez, a Democrat representative from New York cosponsored today’s bill.

Posting on Twitter, Velazquez wrote: “For 124 years Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States. History calls upon us to put politics aside and do right by the people of Puerto Rico. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on the Puerto Rico Status Act, and I look forward to it passing today”.

Today’s bill needs at least 60 votes if it passes the House, after which, the signature of President Joe Biden is required to make it fully binding and law. Lawmakers from both parties support the legislation, as do Puerto Rican officials.

A non-legally binding referendum that lays out the terms of a plebiscite is included in the legislation. There are three potential statuses for self-governing outlined in the bill. Puerto Rico could end up as a full U.S. state, it could receive independence, or, sovereignty with free association within the United States. Palau, the Marshall Islands, and Micronesia already enjoy the latter.

The island became a fully-fledged American territory in 1898, and for decades activists have campaigned for greater self-determination. There is currently a high rate of poverty among its 3.3 million inhabitants.

Its citizens are American but do not have voting representation in Congress. None of them is required to pay federal income tax and they are not permitted to vote in presidential elections. The residents also do not qualify for the same eligibility in many federal programs as other U.S. citizens.

Although six referendums have taken place on this topic since the 1960s, none of them was binding. Congress is the only one that can grant an official status, as reported by dailymail.co.uk.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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