Grijalva Releases DOJ Analysis of Puerto Rico Status Bills Before Wednesday Hearing

Jun 14, 2021
12:28 PM

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colón, who represents Puerto Rico as a nonvoting member of Congress, speaks during a news conference on Puerto Rican statehood on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Two days before the House Committee on Natural Resources holds a second hearing about two political status bills for Puerto Rico, committee chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) released the analysis of each bill from the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding issues of constitutionality and feasibility, a Monday released from the committee said.

This is the DOJ analysis of the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act (H.R. 2070) sponsored by Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

That bill would “recognize the right of the People of Puerto Rico to call a status convention through which the people would exercise their natural right to self-determination, and to establish a mechanism for congressional consideration of such decision.”

This is the DOJ analysis of the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act (H.R. 1522) sponsored by Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR).

That bill would “provide for the admission of the State of Puerto Rico into the Union.”

“I thank the Department of Justice for submitting its assessments of both bills,” Grijalva said in the Monday release. “I requested these assessments to inform the Committee’s consideration of these important pieces of legislation to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status. It is encouraging to see that the Department supports providing the people of Puerto Rico the opportunity to vote on whether to become a State of the Union, as H.R. 1522 would do, and that the Department would support H.R. 2070 if it facilitates a choice among constitutionally permissible status options.  Congress has a legal, political and moral responsibility to play a constructive role in resolving Puerto Rico’s political status. I look forward to continuing the ongoing work with my colleagues, the executive branch, and Puerto Rico’s elected government officials to advance a process that will resolve this problem, which continues to be a priority for the people of the island.”

According to the release, on April 13 Grijalva requested DOJ’s assessment of “how the proposed legislation aligns with the constitutional law and fundamental policies of the United States.” The DOJ analysis released Monday establishes that the Department “supports providing the people of Puerto Rico the opportunity to vote on whether to become a state of the Union, as H.R. 1522 would do.”

The release also noted that DOJ “agrees that the people of Puerto Rico should be allowed to choose whether to become a nation independent of the United States, become a state within the United States, or retain the current status of a territory. Insofar as H.R. 2070 would facilitate a choice among those three options, which we believe are the three constitutional options available to Puerto Rico, the Department supports the bill.”

Finally, the release also listed the witnesses for the Wednesday committee hearing. 

H.R. 1522

  • Luis Gutierrez: Former Member of Congress
  • Dr. Rafael Cox Alomar: Professor of Constitutional Law, University of the District of Columbia
  • Annette Martínez-Orabona: Director, Caribbean Institute of Human Rights

H.R. 2070

  • Rev. Carmen Cabrera: President, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Faith Council
  • Dr. Christina Ponsa-Kraus: Professor of Constitutional Law, Columbia University
  • Prof. Andrés L. Córdova: Professor of Property Law, Inter American University of Puerto Rico


  • Dr. José Caraballo-Cueto: Professor of Economics, University of Puerto Rico