Lawmakers drafted a historic bill on Puerto Rico’s territorial status.

A non-partisan group of lawmakers announced last week that they had agreed to a debating draft of a bill that would allow Puerto Ricans to vote. territorial status of the island. The draft, which will be dubbed the Puerto Rico Status Act, was presented by Majority Minority Leader Steny Hoyer and its main supporters, MP Nydia Velázquez, and Permanent Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, a non-voting Puerto Rico MP.

If passed by the House and Senate, the Puerto Rican Status Act would create and fund a process by which islanders would vote binding to determine the island’s status with respect to the United States.

On the ballot, the island’s current territorial status, according to the draft. Voters instead choose one of three options. Sovereignty, sovereignty and independence under free association with the United States. Under the legislation, Puerto Ricans would retain their US citizenship with all their options for at least one generation.

If Puerto Rico chooses the state, the US will begin the process of recognizing Puerto Rico as the 51st state in the United States, the draft said. If the island chooses free association, it becomes independent, but shares some agreed upon functions with the US government, and if it chooses independence, it controls all aspects of the government.

New York Democrat Velázquez called the bill “a historic opportunity to address a centuries-old dilemma,” referring to what Puerto Ricans describe as colonial relations between islands and states across the political spectrum.

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Maryland Democrat Hoyer said, “This draft bill represents the consensus of our members to find a way for Puerto Ricans to choose their own future.

The 51-page document states that there will be a vote on November 5, 2023. If there is no option to obtain a majority, there will be a runoff in March 2024.

The agreement comes after months of negotiations between the parties that drafted and introduced two competition bills in the House of Representatives.

The Self-Determination Act, sponsored by Velazquez and Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called for a status convention in Puerto Rico where residents will determine their political future.

the opposite bill Puerto Rico State Admissions Law — Sponsored by Representatives Daren Soto and Gonzalez-Colon — focused The island is recognized as the 51st state.

After years of opposition, lawmakers have agreed to come together as one bill. “The main difference between this bill and the one passed is that there is a real desire for decolonization of the island,” Republican Congressman Gonzalez-Colon told CBS News.

“We’re finally here to end second-class citizenship,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a press conference on Thursday. “We have to respect the decolonization process that Puerto Ricans choose to do.”

Rep. Raul Grihalva, chair of the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, which oversees all matters related to Puerto Rico, will visit the island in June to meet with political leaders and discuss drafts.

Gonzalez-Colon told CBS News: “We are looking forward to the introduction of the Puerto Rican Status Act in the summer.

“We’ve been waiting over 124 years to settle our political position and it’s only a matter of time before we finally get an agreement that allows Congress to vote on it,” she said. “So I’m not worried about changes in Congress. In fact, that’s why I think we should push this issue over the summer. And of course put pressure on the Senate.”


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