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 SotoHispanic Caucus energized by first Biden meeting Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act 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.


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-CortezKerry: China described climate change as 'crisis' for the first time Left feels empowered after Biden backtracks on refugees Ocasio-Cortez: Chauvin 'verdict is not a substitute for policy change' 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.


“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 BidenCornyn, Sinema to introduce bill aimed at addressing border surge Harris to travel to Northern Triangle region in June Biden expected to formally recognize Armenian Genocide: report 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 HastingsFlorida state lawmaker entering race to succeed Hastings Julia Letlow sworn in as House member after winning election to replace late husband Black lawmakers press Biden on agenda at White House meeting MORE, Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDemings asked about Senate run after sparring with Jordan on police funding The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Jim Jordan, Val Demings get in shouting match about police during hearing MORE, Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax MORE, Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchFor a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game Lawmakers want Biden to pressure Saudi Arabia to end Yemen blockade House panel opens probe into Tom Reed over sexual misconduct allegations MORE, Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelFlorida Rep. Alcee Hastings dies at 84 Bill introduced to create RBG monument on Capitol Hill How Congress dismissed women's empowerment MORE, Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzLawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' Florida Democrats call for DOJ investigation of state Senate races Democrats urge FDA to clear market of all flavored e-cigarettes MORE, Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellTrump, Florida complicate Biden approach to Cuba The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread The Memo: Democrats see warning signs beyond 2020 MORE and Al LawsonAlfred (Al) James LawsonWe must increase access to affordable mortgages for minority borrowers LIVE COVERAGE: Congress certifies Biden win after Pennsylvania, Arizona challenges fail Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum MORE — as well as two Republicans, Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickNewsmax host: Jury decided to 'sacrifice' Chauvin to the mob Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' House passes bill to prevent violence in health care workplaces MORE (Pa.) and Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election The ocean can no longer be a climate victim Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan MORE (Alaska).  

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