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House Moves to Let Puerto Ricans Vote to End Territorial Status

Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, pictured, supports statehood. Photo courtesy of Pedro Pierluisi's Facebook page.
Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, pictured, supports statehood. Photo courtesy of Pedro Pierluisi’s Facebook page.

The U.S. House has approved a bill that would allow Puerto Ricans a binding vote to decide the territory’s political status. But it stands little chance of Senate passage.

The bipartisan vote on the Puerto Rico Status Act passed 233-191. Sixteen Republicans joined Democrats in voting yes.

It’s the first time the House has backed a binding mechanism for Puerto Ricans to decide whether they want to pave the way to become the 51st U.S. state or to become independent.

The bill was introduced in May. It would give Puerto Ricans the ballot choice of voting for statehood, independence or sovereignty in free association with the United States.

The bill said in part, “In recognition of the inherent limitations of Puerto Rico’s territorial status, and the responsibility of the Federal Government to enable the people of the territory to freely express their wishes regarding political status and achieve full self-government, Congress seeks to enable the eligible voters of Puerto Rico to choose a permanent, non-territorial, fully self-governing political status for Puerto Rico and to provide for a transition to and the implementation of said permanent, non-territorial, fully self-governing status.”

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