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Press Release

Bishop, González-Colón, LaMalfa, Young Offer Path Forward to Advance Puerto Rican Statehood

Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) sent a letter to Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares, Puerto Rican Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, and Puerto Rican House Speaker Carlos Mendez Nunez, regarding the next steps in resolving Puerto Rico’s political status.

“As you know, together with almost 60 other Members, we cosponsored the bipartisan bill authored by Resident Commissioner González-Colón to enable the admission of the territory as a State of the Union, H.R. 6246. This bill is the natural progression following the two most recent plebiscites conducted in Puerto Rico in 2012 and 2017, in which the voters overwhelmingly supported statehood…

“Given the overwhelming, pro-statehood results of the past two votes, we propose the following solution: legislate a new plebiscite that simply asks: ‘Statehood: Yes or No?’ This would allow for all opponents of statehood – whether they support independence, continued Commonwealth status, Free Association, or even ‘none of the above’ – to vote ‘No,’ thus defeating the exclusion argument that some have advanced in the past. Furthermore, the results of such a plebiscite would constitute an indisputable expression of the will of the people of Puerto Rico, with their decision being made by those who vote.”

Read the full letter here.

Committee representatives also sent a letter to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assist the government of Puerto Rico in certifying a plebiscite that will allow for the resolution of Puerto Rico’s status.

“To date, Puerto Ricans have voted on the question of status on five occasions. On the last two plebiscites – in 2012 and 2017 – those, who voted, overwhelmingly chose statehood with 61% and 97% of the vote respectively. However, all these votes were locally sponsored and not federally-sanctioned, nor were they strict yes-or-no votes on statehood for Puerto Rico. If the duly-constituted government of the territory, established and exercising its delegated local powers under federal law (Pub. L. 82-447), determines to conduct a yes-or-no vote on statehood under Pub. L. 113-76, the legal standard prescribed by Congress for federal recognition of such an act of self-determination is clear. It is the Attorney General’s duty and responsibility to certify that the definition of any option to resolve the status of Puerto Rico on the ballot and related education materials are ‘not incompatible with the Constitution and laws and policies of the United States.’ The statehood option, which Puerto Ricans have already supported twice, unequivocally meets both criteria, as it would resolve the status of Puerto Rico in a way that is compatible with the Constitution, laws and policies of the United States.”

Read the full letter here.