Proponents say the measure gives citizens of the island the right to self-determination.?? ??Critics say the measure is a device to impose statehood on a population that doesn’t want it.?? ??Thursday’s action was nonbinding, and if Puerto Ricans eventually select statehood, Congress would still have to vote to admit the island to the union as the 51st state.?? ??
The issue divided Democrats and Republicans alike as liberal Democrats with ties to Puerto Rico teamed with conservative Republicans to oppose the measure.
The divides were particularly stark among members of the House Republican leadership team. House Minority Leader John Boehner,R-Ohio, voted against the legislation. Meantime, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind., voted in favor.
Republicans attempted to add an amendment declaring English the official language of Puerto Rico. Democrats duly defeated the proposal, evidently preferring our fifty-first state to officially speak a different language than the other fifty.
While the legislation itself carried some Republican support for inexplicable reasons, two major Hispanic Democrats voted against it. Why? Because, as has been pointed out, the wording is rigged in favor of statehood. Two of the three options are anti-statehood, splitting the vote to allow the pro-statehood option to win by a plurality.
Fun story: The median household income in Puerto Rico is just $17,000. Statehood would allow the island to qualify for a whole slew of additional welfare programs. Because that’s something we can afford.