WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Reprentatives passed a bill to allow Puerto Rico to decide their future as a non-U.S. Territory.
The bill would allow Puerto Ricans to decide if they want statehood, independence, or sovereignty in free association with the United States.
The House passed the legislation on a 232 to 191 vote.
Lawmakers on both sides debated this issue on the House floor, those for this legislation argued it’s a huge step forward towards Puerto Rico’s de-colonization, but, others against this bill are concerned on the economic implications of changing Puerto Rico’s status.
Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner encouraged house members to vote for this legislation on the floor.
“The territorial conditions constrain the island’s ability to prosper and it has relegated the island as a definite second class status when compared to the 50 states,” explained Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner. “This is the main reason why for the social, economic and physical challenges we have faced, forcing a mass exodus of millions of Puerto Rican’s to the mainland to search for that equality.
Puerto Rico has been under U.S. control since 1898. The island’s residents are citizens but they don’t pay federal income taxes since they don’t have voting Representation in Congress. They also don’t have access to federal programs like SSI, Medicaid, Snap benefits and more.
The legislation the House passed will move to the Senate for consideration. If passed, Puerto Ricans will decide their fate in November.