WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) spoke on the House Floor in support of H.R. 8393, the Puerto Rico Status Act. Below is a copy of his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video:
Click here for a link to the video.
“Madam Speaker, I rise in support of the people of Puerto Rico and their island. Puerto Ricans and people of Puerto Rican descent have had an important place in the American family for over a century. They contribute to American culture. They help protect America’s national security. They support the American economy and our shared prosperity. They are American citizens like you and me. For far too long, however, the people of Puerto Rico have been excluded from the full promise of American democracy and self-determination that our nation has always championed.
“We owe it to Puerto Ricans to bring an end to their island’s 124-year-old status as a U.S. territory and to grant them control over their island’s political future. That’s why I’m proud to bring the Puerto Rico status act to the floor today. This bipartisan legislation would organize and fund a binding, island-wide plebiscite that would allow the people of Puerto Rico to vote among three options: statehood, independence, or sovereignty in free association with the United States. Additionally, it would implement a comprehensive, nonpartisan public-education campaign to help voters understand the implications of each option long before any ballots are cast.
“This bipartisan bill also includes a variety of oversight measures to ensure that the election is secure, transparent, and fair. I have long believed that Puerto Ricans deserve the right to determine their political destiny, which is why i convened a group of house members and senior Puerto Rico officials and worked with them to reach this long-sought consensus on a path forward for self-determination. I want to thank Chairman Raúl Grijalva and his colleagues on the natural resources committee for their important work in forging this agreement.
“Similarly, I thank Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez, Rep. Darren Soto, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colon and Governor Pedro Pierluisi for their support of this bill. Many of us have different opinions on which status is best for Puerto Rico. Personally, I’ve advocated for Puerto Rico’s statehood ever since i first visited the island in 1976. We are all in agreement, however, that the decision must belong to the Puerto Rican people and to them alone. The Puerto Rico Status Act will give them that choice, but only if we vote 'yes.' I ask that all my colleagues join me in supporting this bill.”