IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
February 12, 2014
Mr. Heinrich (for himself and Mr. Wyden) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
To set forth the process for Puerto Rico to be admitted as a State of the Union.
This Act may be cited as the
Puerto Rico Status Resolution
Findings and purposes
Congress finds that—
in 1898, Puerto Rico became a United States territory and persons born in Puerto Rico have been granted United States citizenship by law since March 2, 1917;
Puerto Rico has been granted authority over local matters that is similar to the authority that the several States possess, but Puerto Rico remains subject to the powers of Congress under the Territory Clause of the Constitution of the United States;
the approximately 3,700,000 residents of Puerto Rico do not have a democratic form of government at the national level, because—
United States citizens residing in the territory—
are disenfranchised in the election for the President and the Vice President; and
are not represented in the United States Senate; and
the 1 representative of United States citizens residing in the territory in the House of Representatives can only vote in committees of the House of Representatives;
the Federal Government may, and often does, treat Puerto Rico and residents of Puerto Rico unequally under Federal program, tax, and other laws relative to the several States and the District of Columbia and residents;
on November 6, 2012, the Government of Puerto Rico held a 2-part referendum;
the first question asked voters if
should continue to have its present form of territorial
of the 1,798,987 voters who chose an option, 53.97 percent voted against continued territorial status;
the second question asked voters to express their preference among the 3 possible alternatives to territorial status: statehood, independence, and nationhood in free association with the United States; and
of the 1,363,854 voters who chose an option, 61.16 percent voted for statehood; and
the number of votes cast in favor of statehood exceeded the number of votes cast in favor of continued territorial status.
The purposes of this Act are—
to provide for a federally authorized ratification vote in Puerto Rico on the admission of Puerto Rico into the Union as a State; and
if a majority of voters ratify the desire of Puerto Rico for statehood, to describe the steps that the President and Congress shall take to enable the admission of Puerto Rico as a State of the Union.
The State Elections Commission of Puerto Rico is authorized to provide for a ratification vote on the admission of Puerto Rico into the Union as a State, in accordance with rules and regulations determined by the Commission, including qualifications for voter eligibility, with the following on the ballot:
As a State:
Puerto Rico would be permanently united to the other States of the Union.
All provisions of the Constitution of the United States that apply to the States would apply to Puerto Rico.
Individuals born in Puerto Rico would be United States citizens by virtue of the Constitution of the United States, instead of by virtue of laws of the United States.
Puerto Rico would be treated equally with the other States in all Federal laws of general application.
There would be a period of transition to statehood, during which equal treatment of Puerto Rico in program and tax laws would be phased in.
Puerto Rico would be represented—
in the Senate by 2 Senators;
in the House of Representatives by a number of Representatives in proportion to its share of the national population (and the number of Members of the House of Representatives would be increased by the same number); and
for the election of the President and the Vice President by a number of votes in the Electoral College equal to the number of its Senators and Representatives.
The Government of Puerto Rico, like the governments of the other States, would have permanent authority over all matters not delegated to the Federal Government or the people by the Constitution of the United States.
If a majority of votes cast in the ratification vote held under section 3 are for the admission of Puerto Rico as a State of the Union, the President, not later than 180 days after the certification of the vote, shall submit to Congress legislation to admit Puerto Rico as a State of the Union on an equal footing with the several States in all respects, consistent with the terms of this Act.
If a majority of votes cast in the ratification vote held under section 3 are for the admission of Puerto Rico as a State of the Union, this Act constitutes a commitment by Congress to act, through legislation, to admit Puerto Rico as a State of the Union on an equal footing with the several States in all respects, consistent with the terms of this Act.