Puerto Rico’s Non-Voting Member of Congress Submits Another Bipartisan Statehood Bill That Will Surely Go Nowhere

Oct 29, 2019
6:15 PM

On Tuesday afternoon, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, the island-colony’s non-voting member of Congress, led a press conference on Capitol Hill to announce another statehood bill that is now calling for a federally-funded “statehood yes or no” plebiscite. The press conference included Democratic representatives as well as Republicans. This is the press conference where you can hear what each of them had to say:

The following link also includes a few questions from the press at the end:

Not surprisingly, after all the statements made by politicians, when asked whether the bill even had a chance of getting on the floor of Senate (especially since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has never been a proponent and also thinks Puerto Rico as a state is just “full-bore socialism”) if it passed the House (a BIG if), the Republican González couldn’t give a specific answer.

Her response?

The Republican Party platform has supported statehood since the 1960s. She also did not accurately state President Trump’s  position on statehood (seriously, she didn’t) for the island-colony, and last time we checked, we don’t think McConnell is that all worried at about the Puerto Rican vote in Kentucky. Also, don’t get us started about LULAC’s position or the NAACP.

But do you have the votes? Is there a political will? One more question: how do you explain to least amount of voting support for statehood in Puerto Rico since the 1960s?

No need to answer.

As for the House?

It seems highly unlikely that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be making this bill a priority. The Democrats might be worrying more about impeachment proceedings these days, and unless Puerto Ricans decide to stop looking at the status issue through its typical status-centric political party lenses (is González’s new bill just another peg to add to the pro-statehood party’s 2020 campaign platform on the island-colony?), this circus will never end.

How do we know? All you need to see is this: how many statehood bills have been presented to Congress over several years, and nothing? There’s one from this past year. Nothing. Two from 2017–2018. Nada. One from 2015-2016. Zero. And there were more before these.

How will this bill be any different?

Do the Florida representatives on this bill really think that statehood is a slam dunk with their Puerto Rican constituents? They might want to really examine who is feeding them information, because to many Puerto Ricans, this latest charade just looks like another window-dressing bill that continues to perpetuate the status sham.

This bill is already surely DOA, but politicians like González will use to it for the local cameras in San Juan. Because when you are a colony, colonial thinking that has failed Puerto Rico for decades is still the norm.

We will say this: if Puerto Rico suddenly got a federally-funded plebiscite next year on Election Day, it would be the greatest political miracle of 2020. Puerto Rican politicians have never been known for delivering, and we don’t expect this latest round to be any different.

If González had the votes in the House, she would had said it during the press conference. It would have been certain and real. Instead, it is just another colonial illusion, just like the Shadow Congress—the creation of a governor who is no longer in power.

Good luck on all of you who think this bill has any hope. Because it doesn’t.

Now, if you are serious about trying to frame the conversation about Puerto Rico in a way that tries to look at issues of colonialism and status outside of the island-colony’s current setup with political parties sniping at each others, then contact us. If not, go prove us wrong. We’ll wait. We’re used to it after all these years.

UPDATE: The bill was shared on Wednesday.