Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi says he fully expects legislation proposing Puerto Rican statehood by mid-March at the latest and is anticipating “considerable support.”
According to Pierluisi, Congress is “morally obligated” to act on granting statehood to Puerto Rico.
“What I anticipate is that there will be considerable support for a statehood bill in this Congress,” Pierluisi told Axios on HBO. The legislation, he confidently said, will be “introduced in the House … at the latest by mid-March of this year, so within a month.”
The governor said he knows this because he’s spoken with Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) and Del. Jenniffer González-Colón of Puerto Rico, as well as received calls from “members of the Senate inquiring about this issue.”
After it was noted that Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) has not given her full support to statehood, Pierluisi said he’d love to change her mind. “I would love to have her support and I don’t rule out convincing her to join me in the way that I’m approaching this,” he said.
“The U.S. could be expanding by admitting Puerto Rico into the union,” the governor said, according to The Hill. “It would be telling the world that it is embracing diversity because this would be a truly, completely Hispanic state.”
“Statehood is not a panacea,” Pierluisi added. “Of course we have to do better. But there’s no question that having two senators and four representatives in Congress batting for us when needed would make a difference.”
As noted by The Hill, “Puerto Ricans currently cannot vote for president in the general election and do not have full voting members of Congress.”
Granting statehood to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, both issues pushed by some Democrats, could help Democrats pick up more Senate seats and electoral votes in national elections.
As noted by The Washington Post, Democratic D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser advanced her calls for D.C. statehood in January. The mayor said she wants a statehood bill on President Joe Biden’s desk within his first 100 days in office.
“Propelled by the historic passage of a statehood bill last summer in the Democratic-majority House, advocates have pointed to Democratic control of the White House and the Senate as the necessary building blocks for the bill to become law,” the Post reported, adding, “The victories of Georgia Democratic Sens.-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — who both support D.C. statehood — mean the Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris able to cast tie-breaking votes. Both Harris and President-elect Joe Biden support statehood.”
Still, statehood for D.C. remains a long shot so long as the filibuster is not eliminated.
“To advance, statehood legislation would need to draw the support of 10 Republicans — unless the Senate votes, as some are pushing for, to eliminate the filibuster. But many Democrats and Republicans oppose removing the filibuster, believing it encourages bipartisanship,” the Post said.