House Democrats will vote Thursday on a bill that would allow Puerto Ricans to decide on the island territory’s governing status — a move Republicans argue should be focused on other priorities in the final days of Congress’ legislative session.
The House Rules Committee approved the Puerto Rico Status Act on Wednesday night, clearing the way for a full House vote.
The legislation, which could pass the House of Representatives along party lines, would set the terms for a plebiscite on Puerto Rico’s status, one of three options — full statehood, independence or free association with the United States.
The latter designation puts Puerto Rico on the same level as the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.
But with some Republicans scrambling to avert a partial government shutdown until midnight on Friday, why are Democrats scrambling to vote on a bill that is certain to die in the Senate?
“I have to say that this legislation is days away in Congress, there’s no way forward in the Senate, and I’m not sure that this issue warrants an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee with so many outstanding issues,” he said. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said Fox News wednesday .
House lawmakers approved a short-term spending bill late Wednesday that gives Congress another week to debate a federal spending plan for the rest of the fiscal year.
The Senate was expected to take up the measure on Thursday.
If the House passes the Puerto Rican Status Act, it will go to the Senate, where it has a slim chance of getting 60 votes for confirmation.
Democrats needed to get 10 Republicans in a 50-50 House to ensure passage.
It also requires President Biden’s signature before the law can take effect.
The Puerto Rico Status Act was introduced in July by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). .
“I know that the decolonization of Puerto Rico should not just be passed by lawmakers in Washington,” Grijalva said. “That’s why I’m so proud of my colleagues’ hard work and commitment to incorporating the input of Puerto Rico’s leaders and residents into this final bill.”
With a population of over 3.2 million, Puerto Rico has been a US territory since 1898.
Rep. Nydia Velasquez The first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House of Representatives (D-NY) welcomed the upcoming vote.
“After 124 years of colonialism, Puerto Ricans deserve a fair, transparent and democratic process to finally resolve their status issue. I have worked tirelessly to achieve this throughout my career in Congress,” he said on Twitter after the Rules Committee’s vote.
“I’m looking forward to making history tomorrow,” Velazquez added. .