In an exchange at a February 16 Manhattan Community Board 11 meeting that is publicly available, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would not support a statehood bill for Puerto Rico.
The exchange, first reported by El Nuevo Día, was part of the meeting’s question and answer session. Manhattan CB 11 member Andrew Padilla was asking about tax havens for wealthy individuals (Act 22) in Puerto Rico, and Schumer ended his comments by saying the following about possible statehood bills being supported by Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Díaz, Jr.
“I don’t agree with them. I am not going to support their statehood bill until we straighten Puerto Rico out,” Schumer said.
Schumer’s comments about the statehood bill appear at the end of this clip from the February 16 meeting:
Last Sunday, Puerto Rico governor and pro-statehood advocate Pedro Pierluisi announced that statehood bills would be presented in Congress by the middle of March, explaining that he hopes that the bills would have “considerable support” on Capitol Hill. Latino Rebels reached out to the governor’s office for comment about what Schumer said on February 16. As of this posting, it has yet to receive an answer from Pierluisi or La Fortaleza.
In December, Schumer told El Nuevo Día that the November 3 plebiscite where statehood won with close to 53% of the vote “did not reflect the strong consensus required to advance a pro-statehood bill” and that “he is waiting for an agreement on a ‘fair’ process on the island.”
Before Schumer made his comments about the statehood bill during the February 16 meeting, he also said the following about former Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló and his support of tax havens:
“I called up Rosselló the governor and screamed at him when he did that thing. I said, ‘You don’t let the wealthy get an escape route to not pay taxes,” Schumer said. “That was gross. But now there’s a new legislature and everything else, and we’re going to get better people on the PROMESA board. We’ll get rid of the PROMESA board. And we are now giving Puerto Rico more help.”
“We ought to tell that governor none of this bullshit when you let millionaires and billionaires escape,” Schumer added later in the clip, not clarifying if he meant former governor Rosselló or current governor Pierluisi. “And I’ve told him that, and maybe this is a good idea… maybe we should put something, they don’t get the money unless they rescind that thing.”
In addition, Schumer praised the work of Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), calling her one of his best friends and saying that he gave her the nickname “la luchadora.” Along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Velázquez is the co-sponsor of a self-determination bill that would “prompt Puerto Rico’s Legislature to create a Status Convention whose delegates would be elected by Puerto Rican voters. This body would develop a long-term solution for Puerto Rico’s status, be that statehood, independence, free association or any option other than the current territorial arrangement.”
UPDATE, February 20
The official Twitter government account of Pierluisi tweeted out the following in response to Schumer:
I look forward to a productive discussion. The American citizens of Puerto Rico deserve no less than equal treatment. It is as simple as that. (2/2)
— Gobernador Pierluisi (@GovPierluisi) February 20, 2021
After those tweets, Pierluisi’s personal account tweeted this:
Statehood is the solution, everything else falls short. @SenSchumer, Puerto Ricans deserve a seat at the table to end inequality. Time to turn words into action, the greatest democracy in the world must listen to its citizens in Puerto Rico. https://t.co/Qn2F95lKe0
— Pedro R. Pierluisi (@pedropierluisi) February 20, 2021