Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum

Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum
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A bipartisan House group on Tuesday introduced a resolution to recognize the results of Puerto Rico's upcoming statehood referendum, which will be on the territory's ballots in November.

The resolution, led by Rep. Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoBiden signs bill to designate the National Pulse Memorial in Orlando Puerto Rico's former governor stages a comeback Pulse nightclub to become a national memorial 5 years after deadly mass shooting MORE (D-Fla.), recognizes the validity of the referendum, declaring that the president and Congress would have a duty to move toward statehood if voters choose that option.

November's referendum, the first yes/no vote on statehood that has been scheduled during a general election, was not sanctioned by the Department of Justice, despite Republican Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced's entreaties.

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But the local legislature passed a bill mandating the referendum on the core issue that divides the territory's politics.

Soto's resolution pits statehood against proponents of a longer process, which would have Puerto Rico form a Status Convention to analyze different sovereignty options for the island before putting the results up for a referendum.

New York Democratic Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE last month proposed a bill to form such a commission, arguing that statehood is not the only viable option to provide Puerto Ricans with adequate representation.

But that bill has been panned by several top Puerto Rican Democrats including Soto, the first Florida representative of Puerto Rican origin, Puerto Rico Democratic Party Chairman Charles Rodríguez and Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), who is a co-sponsor of Soto's bill.

One point of agreement is that Puerto Rico's current status is unsustainable. Statehood supporters argue that their proposal has a clear path forward, and is the only proven status arrangement compatible with the U.S. Constitution.

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“Come November, Puerto Rico has a new opportunity to take a step forward in addressing its status,” said Soto.

And supporters of Soto's bill also say that the inclusion of a majority Hispanic state — New Mexico is currently the most Hispanic existing state with 49 percent Hispanic population — would help Latino causes throughout the country.

“On the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, the introduction of our resolution is about respecting democracy and the will of the people of Puerto Rico. If Puerto Ricans vote for statehood, we must take action to admit the 51st state of our Union,” said Soto in a statement.

Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15 — the date Mexico and four Central American countries celebrate their independence from Spain — and goes through Oct. 15.

Puerto Rican politics have gained relevance in national races, as hundreds of thousands of the island's residents have moved to central Florida over the past decade.

Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and can vote for president if they reside in one of the 50 states, but cannot as residents of Puerto Rico.

The demographic change in Florida has upended the swing state's politics, pushing the Hispanic political center of gravity north from Miami's largely Cuban American population to Orlando's Puerto Rican-dominated districts.

Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE later on Tuesday will kick off Hispanic Heritage Month in Kissimmee, Fla., near Orlando, after his campaign hosts a press conference on Puerto Rico.

Soto's resolution is co-sponsored by Serrano, who is retiring at the end of the year, the two Republican territorial delegates, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (Puerto Rico) and Aumua Amata Radewagen (American Samoa), and all Florida Democrats — Reps. Alcee HastingsAlcee (Judge) Lamar HastingsNew Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat House Democrats unveil .9 billion bill to boost security after insurrection Carter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority MORE, Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Cuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats MORE, Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristDeSantis's reelection campaign will be brutal — and he could lose Crist rips DeSantis over Florida COVID-19 spike: 'We don't have leadership' Pressure mounts for DeSantis in Florida MORE, Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchIncorporating mental health support into global assistance programs Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers Sanders reaffirms support for Turner in Ohio amid Democratic rift MORE, Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelDemocrats repeal prohibition on funding abortions abroad Investing in child care paves the way to a better economy Democrats introduce equal pay legislation for US national team athletes MORE, Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzBiden: Families of victims of Surfside building collapse 'realistic' about rescue Biden intends to pick up costs to county, state in Florida building recovery efforts At least 99 people unaccounted for after deadly Miami-area building collapse MORE, Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-Powell'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Stephanie Murphy won't run for Senate seat in Florida next year Hispanic Democrats slam four Republicans over Jan. 6 vote in new ads MORE and Al LawsonAlfred (Al) James LawsonWestern states at risk of unprecedented heat as wildfire season begins We must increase access to affordable mortgages for minority borrowers LIVE COVERAGE: Congress certifies Biden win after Pennsylvania, Arizona challenges fail MORE — as well as two Republicans, Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickGyms, hotels, bus companies make last-ditch plea for aid Democrats seek to calm nervous left Biden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead MORE (Pa.) and Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps Overnight Energy: Biden admin backs Trump approval of major Alaska drilling project | Senate Republicans pitch 8 billion for infrastructure | EPA to revise Trump rule limiting state authority to block pipelines Biden signs bill to help Alaska cruise industry MORE (Alaska).  

Puerto Rico resolution on Scribd