Puerto Rico rep introduces bill to make territory a state
Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative Jenniffer Gonzalez introduced a bill in Congress on Wednesday to grant statehood to the territory by 2021.
Gonzalez, the territory’s resident commissioner, said the legislation currently has 14 Democratic and 20 Republican sponsors, the Associated Press reported.
“This is the first step to open a serious discussion regarding the ultimate status for the island,” Gonzalez said, according to the AP.
The legislation would establish a bipartisan task force to write a report on the laws that would have to be altered or rescinded to make the island a U.S. state. The report would then be sent to the president and Congress, the AP reported.
The committee would also make recommendations on temporary economic measures that would need to be implemented as Puerto Rico becomes a state.
Territory officials have advocated for statehood for years. Puerto Ricans last year voted overwhelmingly in favor of becoming a state.
Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898. Though its residents are U.S. citizens, the territory does not have a congressional representative with full voting powers and Puerto Ricans cannot vote in presidential elections.
The bill comes as the territory continues to recover from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last year.
Critics slammed the Trump administration for its response to the storm, saying it fell short of the efforts given to mainland states after they suffered from hurricanes.
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