Story at a glance

  • Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg released a plan for Puerto Rico’s economic development today, beginning with statehood.
  • Some of the top priorities include an increase in federal funding, benefits and sustainability projects on the island.
  • A majority of Americans have supported statehood since 1962, according to Gallup data.

Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg on Monday confirmed his support for Puerto Rico’s statehood in a new policy plan.

According to the Miami Herald, the former New York City mayor calls out other Democrats for being reticent to vocalize support for the U.S. territory becoming the 51st state. 

“For decades, Puerto Ricans and their interests have been ignored by Washington. And there’s a simple reason why: They don’t have a vote in Congress,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “There’s a clear solution to this challenge that a majority of Puerto Ricans support. Most presidential candidates for president have been too afraid to back it. Not me. I’ll state it clearly: I support statehood for Puerto Rico. And as president, I will work to pass a bill making it a reality, subject to approval by the people of Puerto Rico — who will make the ultimate decision.”

Bloomberg joins entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) as the only two 2020 Democratic hopefuls who have said that the island should be granted statehood. Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden is the only candidate who not taken a clear stance on the issue up to this point, according to the Washington Post.

Other remaining candidates, including former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); and billionaire Tom Steyer have said Puerto Ricans should be able to decide on statehood through a vote.

Bloomberg’s plan focuses on the economic impacts statehood would have on Puerto Rico. Bloomberg said if elected, Puerto Rico would be granted statehood and thus receive fully funded Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits, as well as restructuring debt relief. Bloomberg also said he would allow faster transfers of rebuilding and administering disaster response funding as the island territory continues to deal with the aftermath of a string of earthquakes.

Bloomberg’s plan would still keep the current oversight board, but carry members “who will put party politics aside and prioritize the interests of the Puerto Rican people,” according to Bloomberg.

His plan would also emphasize clean energy initiatives to move the island off of a centralized grid for a more reliable power system.

This announcement from Bloomberg comes just after the Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz proposed a bill that would add a statehood vote to the general election ballot in November. 

Called the “Law for the Final Solution to the Political Status of Puerto Rico,” the bill would pose a yes-or-no answer to the question “Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted within the Union as a state?"

Puerto Ricans seem to support statehood, voting separately in 2012 and 2017 for the territory to become a state. Both were declared nonbinding due to voter irregularity and improper wording, respectively. 

Approximately 2 in 3 Americans recorded in a June Gallup survey said they favor admitting Puerto Rico, now a U.S. territory, as a U.S. state. Dating as far back as 1962, about 59 percent to 65 percent of respondents surveyed by Gallup have supported Puerto Rico’s statehood.

Published on Jan 27, 2020