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News > Puerto Rico

US House Approves Bill to Set Puerto Rico’s Political Status

  • 16 Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in support of the Puerto Rico Status Act. Dec. 15, 2022.

    16 Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in support of the Puerto Rico Status Act. Dec. 15, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/@ReneeDe31253143

Published 15 December 2022

The bill seeks to determine by referendum the political status of the unincorporated territory of the U.S.

This Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill called the Puerto Rico Status Act in a 233-219 vote, in which 16 Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in support.

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The bill poses three scenarios for the binding referendum on whether Puerto Rico wants U.S. statehood, sovereignty with formal association with the U.S., or full autonomy.

The measure was welcomed by Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi, who said, "Now we are going to pass this battle to the U.S. Senate." Pierluisi said the legislature's decision makes the referendum process binding, which means it obligates the U.S. political branch to respect and execute the winning option. 

The original sponsor of the bill, Democratic Representative Raúl Grijalva, considered it "an important historical precedent," whether it is approved in the Senate. According to Grijalva, the legislation grants legality to the election of the people of Puerto Rico, as well as to its results. 

The Caribbean island has been under U.S. jurisdiction as an unincorporated territory since 1989. Residents of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens, but have no electoral representation in Congress and cannot vote in presidential elections.

U.S. Senators are locked in a fight to pass two major bills to fund the military and the government in general. With the Congress' recess vacation in sight, there is little chance that the bill will pass the Senate.

Republicans opposed the bill on the grounds that it did not offer the option of maintaining the status quo, and called it a distraction.  

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