April 1, 2019
On March 28—the same day on which the president fatuously stated,” “Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump [since the destruction of Hurricane Maria] than by any living human being, and I think the people of Puerto Rico understand it”—Congress introduced a bill that would entitle the commonwealth to all of the disaster relief that reaches political entities on the U.S. mainland.
The Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2019, which was introduced by Representative Darren Soto (D-Florida) and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, a Republican who represents the island in the House, would grant Puerto Rico equal civil rights and status as the 51st state within 90 days of passage.
“From the day I was sworn in as Puerto Rico’s sole representative in Congress, and filed the Puerto Rico Admission Act, I stated very clearly that I would work different strategies, across all platforms to achieve the full equality for Puerto Rico, which can only be achieved through statehood,” Gonzalez said in a news release.
According to a report by CNN, the move to sponsor legislation came as the Republican-controlled Senate considered a new disaster relief package for the territory—and as tensions continued to flare between President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who supports the bill.
“Puerto Rico’s colonial status and unsustainable relationship with the federal government has gone on for over a century, even as our citizens have contributed to the growth, culture, and social fabric of the United States; and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow citizens on battlefields around the globe and under our same flag,” Rosselló, said in the release.
Indeed, the legislation is badly needed, in order to get the type of aid to the island that is needed for the infrastructure to be rebuilt, more rapidly and completely than has been done to date.
Although he expects credit from the people of Puerto Rico, President Trump still is being castigated for a visit he made to the devastated island after the hurricane, in early October 2017—during which he threw paper towels to the media and local representatives at a press conference and congratulated Puerto Rico residents for escaping the higher death toll of a “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”
Since that time, the president consistently has challenged efforts to provide more adequate disaster funding and food stamp coverage for the island. Although the territory is still recovering economically, Trump reportedly told Senate Republicans last week that he questioned the wisdom of sending the island additional disaster relief aid, CNN said.
In Thursday’s news release, Soto referenced disaster relief efforts as a reason to give Puerto Rico statehood.
“We have seen time and time again that colonial status is simply not working,” Soto said. “Look no further than the abysmal Hurricane Maria recovery efforts and the draconian PROMESA law [the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act] to prove this point all too well.”
Research contact: @CNNPolitics