House Democrats on Thursday are looking to pass legislation that would end Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory and would allow Puerto Rican voters to decide whether they would like to be a U.S. state, an independent country or have a different type of non-territory status.
Democrats have prepared the Puerto Rico Status Act in the House Rules Committee. This bill is then going to be debated and voted on Thursday only a few days before the GOP gains control of the House. The bill is the result of years of negotiations with lawmakers of Puerto Rican descent and others, however, the sudden swiftness of pushing the bill through has caught Republicans by surprise.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, noted that with only a few legislative days left he did not understand why it was so important for an emergency meeting to be held for this bill when there are so many issues that the House still needs to deal with.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., has said that he hoped to see the bill move swiftly through Congress so that Puerto Rico could gain its independence.
Democrats have said that the bill will allow Puerto Rico to determine its own political status and that it would help ensure that the island could be decolonized. This is something Grijalva also pointed out saying that this was a chance for the administration to deal with a colonial legacy that had created a situation in which Puerto Rico could not have access to the democratic principles that as U.S. citizens they believed in.