by Katarina Hall
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill allowing a referendum in Puerto Rico to decide the future of the territory.
The referendum would allow Puerto Rican voters to choose between three options: becoming an independent nation, becoming a state, or becoming a sovereignty with a formal U.S. association. The options do not include Puerto Rico’s current status as a territory.
“Many of us are not in agreement about how that future should be, but we all accept that the decision should belong to the people of Puerto Rico,” said Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez, the island’s non-voting representative in the US Congress.
The House passed the Puerto Rico Status Act on Thursday with 233 votes in favor and 191 against. The act calls for a referendum next November to “resolve Puerto Rico’s political status.”
The more than three million Puerto Rican residents are U.S. citizens but have no representation in Congress and cannot vote in general elections.
“For far too long, the people of Puerto Rico have been excluded from the full promise of American democracy and self-determination that our nation has always championed,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
For the referendum to take place, the bill must also pass in the Senate. However, with the current Congress term expiring early next month, the legislation has almost no chance of being taken up by the Senate.
In a non-binding referendum held in 2020, Puerto Rican voters favored statehood over independence.
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Katarina Hall is a reporter for ADN America.
Photo “Puerto Rico” by R9 Studios FL. CC BY 2.0.