the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, which gives the people of Puerto Rico the opportunity to vote on their political future including the possibility of becoming America’s 51st state. Officially, the bill would create a two-step voting process where the people of Puerto Rico would vote to either maintain the status quo or select a different political status. If a different political status is desired by the majority of the electorate, Puerto Ricans would have three options: independence, free association with the U.S., or full statehood.
I’m very sympathetic to allowing the people of Puerto Rico to express their views – yet they are free to hold such a vote anytime they choose to conduct one. If a Congressionally-sanctioned vote is going to be held, it must come with an open, thorough understanding of what independence or statehood would mean to Puerto Rico and the existing 50 states. This approach of voting first and answering questions later is exactly backwards. Furthermore, it makes no sense that H.R. 2499 allows not just residents of Puerto Rico to vote, but extends voting privileges to anyone in the other 50 states who was born in Puerto Rico. Why should someone who has lived and voted for decades in Alabama or Wyoming be given special status over their neighbors to vote on whether Puerto Rico becomes a state?
The bottom line is that there are many questions that have not been answered, and there are a great many implications that aren’t being considered or even discussed. Congress owes it to the citizens of the 50 states and to the people of Puerto Rico to have a full, open debate and resolve these questions before voting on this bill. If this doesn’t happen, then Representatives should vote NO.