US House Approves Puerto Rico Referendum Bill

On Thursday, the US House voted 233-191 to approve a bill that will allow Puerto Rico — a US territory — to hold its first-ever binding referendum to determine the governmental status of the island.

US House Approves Puerto Rico Referendum Bill
Image credit: AP [via New York Daily News]

Facts

  • On Thursday, the US House voted 233-191 to approve a bill that will allow Puerto Rico — a US territory — to hold its first-ever binding referendum to determine the governmental status of the island.
  • The bill gives Puerto Ricans three options for consideration: statehood, independence, or independence with free association with the US.
  • Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) struck a deal to bring the bill to a full House vote with outgoing Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) leading the way in negotiations.
  • The bill now moves to the divided Senate, where it will need 60 votes and Pres. Biden’s signature to take effect. With a full schedule and Congress set to reconvene with a Republican-controlled House on Jan. 3, many speculate the chances of the bill passing are slim.
  • Meanwhile, Republicans allege that Democrats are trying to rush the legislation in the final days of the current Democrat-controlled Congress, arguing that the bill would fund Puerto Rico’s statehood or sovereignty without Puerto Ricans paying taxes.
  • Puerto Rico — which has a population of approximately 3.3M — became a US territory in 1898. There have been six referendums on the island's status since the 1960s, but they were invalid as only Congress can grant statehood.

Sources: Associated Press, Hill, NY Daily, Reuters, FOX News, and Voa.

Narratives

  • Democratic narrative, as provided by TNR. Puerto Ricans must be given the right to determine their future. The island has been under US colonial rule for over 100 years — stuck in limbo with neither independence nor statehood, and it's time this changes. While this bill is a step in the right direction, it likely won't be the deciding factor in this debate, which is why the US must commit to a status change one way or another.
  • Republican narrative, as provided by USSA. Thankfully, this bill has little to no chance of passing in the Senate, but it's still important to note the true sentiment behind the push to get it through Congress. Under the guise of acting in Puerto Ricans' best interests, the power-hungry Democrats are looking to buy favor and are willing to go as far as creating an entirely new voting block to do so.

Predictions