House passes bill that could pave way for Puerto Rico statehood

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., Majority Leader, and Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., helped broker a dispute between Puerto Rico officials, lawmakers who supported statehood and quarrelsome lawmakers in Puerto Rico. Agreement that the United States should support the island’s self-determination process.

“This bill is far from guaranteed on the court today,” Mr. Grijalva said on Thursday, noting that changes were still being negotiated about 24 hours before the vote. “I am proud to discuss a piece of legislation, a proposal to help the people of Puerto Rico participate directly in determining their political future,” he added.

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, D-N.Y. and the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House of Representatives, declared that “the Puerto Rican voice is finally being heard” as she listed the Puerto Rican women and society promoted in the U.S. government and continue to support the island.

“This is an embarrassment for the United States — the United States that presents itself as the leader of the free world, fighting imperialist tyrants abroad while retaining colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific,” she said. “Congress has a moral obligation to provide the tools necessary to transition to a new postcolonial order.”

But Power 4 Puerto Rico, a coalition of diaspora organizations, urged lawmakers to vote against it, calling the bill a “Trojan horse” in a statement that “provides only a small amount of information masquerading as decolonization and tramples on Puerto Rico’s The full rights of the human being to transparency and a fair process.”

Some Republicans also opposed the measure, with some lawmakers criticizing the Democratic majority for excluding them from the final days of negotiations and arguing that the U.S. role in helping the island transition to a voter-chosen outcome was unresolved.

“Just as we want the people of Puerto Rico to consider their problems, understand their consequences and take responsibility for their choices, so should Congress,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, the top Republican on the Natural Resources Committee. He complained that a “rushed and secretive process” deprived lawmakers of the opportunity to engage with the bill.

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