Puerto Rico Statehood|HR 2499 calls for a Puerto Rico vote UPDATE

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 By

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico statehood is a hotly debated issue in and out of the Commonwealth. Image from Flickr.

UPDATE – April 28 – The U.S. House of Representatives has passed HR 2499, the bill calling for a vote on Puerto Rico statehood. HR 2499 passed 223-169 and now moves on to be considered by the Senate.

The U.S. Natural Resources Committee has moved to bring HR 2499, a bill regarding Puerto Rico statehood, to the house floor. HR 2499 is not directly a vote for Puerto Rico statehood, but it does require a vote to be taken in Puerto Rico. Statehood is one of the possible outcomes of this vote. So why is Puerto Rico statehood such a contentious issue? It has something to do with tax debt, something to do with autonomy and a lot to do with questions of representation.

The history of Puerto Rico statehood

The history of the question of Puerto Rico statehood goes back many years. While Puerto Rico was first colonized by the Spanish, it became a United States colony in 1898 during the Spanish-American war. In 1900, the Foraker Act created a civilian government, separate judicial system and nonvoting member of the United States congress. In 1917, all Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens. In 1947, Puerto Rico was officially made a commonwealth – not quite Puerto Rico statehood, but not an independent nation. Instead, residents of Puerto Rico are U.S. Citizens without voting representation in Congress or the necessity of giving instant money to the IRS.

HR 2499: A vote on Puerto Rico statehood

HR 2499 is a bill in the House of Representatives that calls for the fourth plebiscite – national vote – regarding potential Puerto Rico statehood. The other three plebiscites held have not come out strongly for or against Puerto Rico statehood. The pro-statehood and pro-commonwealth parties in Puerto Rico have about equal support, and the pro-independence party has about 5 percent support. HR 2499 would create the first congressionally-sanctioned plebiscite about Puerto Rico statehood.

The Puerto Rico statehood vote

There would be two votes if HR 2499, the bill raising the question of Puerto Rico statehood, is passed. First, a vote will be held on the question “Should Puerto Rico maintain its present political status.” If the majority of votes are “no” on that question, a second vote would be held. The second vote on Puerto Rico statehood would actually offer three options:

  • Independence – breaking all ties between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, creating a separate nation
  • Associated Sovereignty – eliminates the U.S. citizenship and Territorial Clause controls of Puerto Rico, but maintains ties with the United States
  • Puerto Rico Statehood – makes Puerto Rico the 51st state of the United States, with six congressmen, two U.S. senators and eight presidential electoral votes

There are many good arguments both for and against Puerto Rico statehood. Some say Puerto Rico statehood would offer equal representation to a group of people who are subject to federal laws. However, others argue that Puerto Rico statehood would break up the unique and balanced system that has developed over the last 50 years. What do you think?


PR Statehood.com
No Puerto Rico Statehood.com

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This post has 29 comments

  1. ORLANDO says:

    Check the inmigrations Laws the way they come whith new Laws for the inmigrants What would happen when they applies those laws to PUERTORICANS IN THE iSLAND BEACAUSE IS THE NEW ESTATE OF THE UNION

  2. Jason says:

    puerto rico, mi propio estado……………

  3. Israel says:

    I am a BORIQUA born in BORINKEN land of DE Coqui, El Campesino y EL Taino Indio Bravio; also known as Puerto Rico Isla del Eden, Perla de los Mares famous words of Juan Gautier about our ISLAND when he first saw it. Yes I am a proud Boriqua a Taino Indian decendant and yes I live in the US but Borinken is always in my heart. Yes I would say desiding wether to vote for stahood or not is a very hard desicion, but the way things are now I rather like to see My Borinken protected under statehood than abused by malicious entities. Just think Borinken's Playa de Luquillo, El Morro, El Bosque the Yunke, Las Cuevas de Las Montanyas and all of the Taino Indio sites would automaticaly become Nationa Parks protected under US NATIONAL PARKS LAWS, and La Universidad de Puerto Rico would become Puerto Rico's State University with all the financial oportunities that are now available in the US. For that reason I am for statehood to preserve our Encanto del Eden Island. I am proud of this wish of mine and I am sure that our Taino Indian ancestors would be to.

  4. Geral says:

    State of Puerto Rico will be the best option… Statehood: YES

  5. Rene Rosario says:

    l is time

  6. Robert says:

    Just a question. When are the residents of PR going to vote?

    • Mary Rice says:

      Robert –
      That has yet to be determined. The bill has not yet passed the senate or become law. When and if it does, the date for the vote will be set.

  7. Redskin says:

    peggy josepj, my apologies. Your comment was misread as if you didn't give a damn about puerto rico and I take offense when any culture or society is disrespected. You definitely did not.

  8. Redskin says:

    First of all, peggy josepj, no one in PR or anywhere else for that matter, gives a *@&# about you either, but enough of that. If you research PR history they were a very hard working culture albeit poor due to spanish rule. When they were granted commonwealth status and started to get the benefits of "operation bootstrap" puerto ricans became used to getting help from the government over the years and have become spoiled if you will. The best way to get them to be as productive again and not become a burden to the U.S. is to make them decide wether to be a state or an independent island nation. I don't think they would like to lose their benefits so paying more into the economy is a better choice for them. Since about 50% of the population is republican the GOP would pick up a healthy amount of votes as well.

  9. roberto c says:

    Im so sad that we still have people as dumm , Is time for a change , never mine politics , this goes way back, the reason thet Puerto Rico is the way it is , because lock of educating and explanation to the people of Puerto Rico. to beging we need to finishing with the Estado Libre Asociado,that's been the biggest lie that mu~nos marin injectec all Boricuas ,, but that happen many years ago. now we are not as dumm as before,, in order for Puerto Rico to move on in life is by via statehood, there is nothing else ,, so Puerto Rican wake up and smell the coffee … is going to be better for us .. we been with the u.s.a for centuries .. take a look at other countries the way they live . we are a haven … P.R.#51st state

  10. Jody S says:

    I frankly cannot believe this is even up for vote! Our country currently has a $13 TRILLION debt in large part to Obama and the Democrats. To bring PR in would cost a staggering amount of money in infrustucture and all kinds of other untold costs. Al of this just so we can have more democrat voters and more in power. I'm personnally REALLY scared about what is happening in our country! My wife is a layed off school teacher along with 13 million other Americans, and our leaders are trying to bring in millions of more unemployed in. CRAZY!

  11. oogi says:

    Puerto Rico deserves to be our 51st state. They deserve to have ALL the freedoms and benefits of U.S. citizenship. Their children fight for this country. It is their right. Welcome Puerto Rico! I hope your vote is to be our 51st state.

  12. JARivera says:

    As long as the so called "Commonwealth" (ELA) shows up in any plebiscite the final vote will be predictable (48%/48%/4% or there about). The 4th alternative to decolonize Puerto Rico. The amendment by the naive Congresswoman from North Carolina is the most ridiculous statemet you can read. Let me quote HR 2499 "4. Commonwealth: Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of political status. If you agree, mark here ______.".

    Independence, Statehood, and Associated Republic are decolonization alternatives. The question is . . ."How the Commonwealth (ELA) replace itself if it is not a decolonization alternative?

    The only way is for the Senate force the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) to finally define what they propose to make ELA a decolonization alternative". If the Senate does not demand for this definition two things will happen, 1) the final vote,of the plebiscite will be as all the previous one (48%/48%/4%) or there about. 2) the Senate would have proven to me that they are as stupid as the house was by accepting such an amendment.

  13. danrad says:

    puerto rico. is going to be state. it has been to long.we as a people as puerto rican should be a state we have people in the us arm force and those people cant vote. and that is wrong for the perto rican nation. we flight for are right but we get nothing back. it was a old man that say all puerto rican work hard and never see a bank what it is in the in side

  14. joseph macarell says:

    im a mainlander. american as apple pie…..and reside in puerto rico..there is a distict difference between 1999s vote and today.price of living has skyrocketed in the ten years ive lived here ..here is a list of new taxes we pay.

    1. obligatory auto insurance as well as payment for emmission testing

    2. full taxes on any properties that are not your primary residence.

    3. 7 percent sales tax on everything except uncooked food.

    4. water and electric have gone way up. my average water bill in 2000 was 12 dollars a month now its 80 dollars.

    we are being taxed so i say pr=51 and be done……….we pay but have no say…………………………….

  15. I. Ram says:

    Stop! Don't go there. I have been in U.S.A. for 28 years. My wife is from Mexico. I petitioned for her to become a Permanent U.S. Resident. Right now, people in P.R. do not enjoy the most important right as an American Citizen. The Right to Vote. We are Permanet Residents as long as people live in Puerto Rico. My conciense tells me to be part of the system. Become the 51 st. Any other choice would be irrational. I am also speaking in a neutral stance. Boricuas think about what you are saying.

  16. Juan says:

    Instead of two rounds plebiscites it should be only one Statehood Yes or No as it was in Hawaii and Alaska

    And demand a supermajority for statehood

    • manuel laborde says:

      Juan, please do a little research. Supermajority was not a condition for the other US territories. In fact some states only pass with less than 50% of the vote. Demanding other than simple majority to the US territory of PR would be,by definition, discriminatory.

  17. Alvin J. Figueroa says:

    Two corrections. Puerto Rico, by virtue of the federal 600 Law of 1950, became a Commonwealth in 1952, not in 1947 like the article says. HR 2499 includes FOUR options during the second vote, not three:




    Free Association

    The project passed precisely because a NC republican representative insisted upon including the Commonwealth as part of the plebiscite. Even if in the first round people vote for changes, those changes might mean that they want a more autonomous commonwealth without becoming an associate republic (a la Marshall Islands or Micronesia).

    Puerto Rico does not want statehood and this is a project that is trying to create an artificial majority to "convince" the Congress otherwise. Statehooders are talking about exercising the Tenessee Plan if they win by a plural majority. Still, the Federal Senate has to approve this project.

    For them it's a kind of fait accompli, but at the end, like ALWAYS in Puerto Rican contemporary history, the Left (independentistas and libreasociacionistas) will side with the commonwealth forces to defeat statehood.

    • manuel laborde says:

      Please do not fall into the real trap. The present status is a territory and colonial in nature. Most leaders of the party that support the actual status aknowledge this, but they lie to the people of PR. To the extend that believe it or not they think that we are a nation within a nation, and at the same time american citizens who enyoyed a better economy than that of the other states. THAT IS THE REASON THEY DO NOT WANT TO HAVE A PLEBISCITE SANCTIONED BY CONGRESS. THEY CAN NOT SELL THIS STATUS WITH ALL THIS LIES IF CONGRESS IS INVOLVED.

  18. peggy josepj says:

    obama, needs more latino votes to stay in power, and why would the people, want to get caught up in this corrupt whitehouse, taxes that will choke a horse and mark is correct congress and this whitehouse don't give a damn about the people of puerto Rico.

    • manuel laborde says:


  19. mb says:

    The southern states for example, are states and they are poor states, with very low income,homeless citizan, high unempliment,ext,ext, So where are the benefits of being a state????!!!!!

  20. Alex says:

    We love Puerto Rico the way it is.

    We have visited relatives and vacationed there numerous times. Friends of ours have retired there to avoid sky rocketing Federal taxes. We are considering joining them.

    Please don't change! Federal taxes would kill jobs, stop retirees from moving there and raise your cost of living.

    Please don't change.


  21. Laura says:

    Puerto Rico is one of my favorite vacation spots. I consider it one of America's best-kept secrets. While it's not really a secret, it's a place that was once a very popular vacation spot, but with world travel being as accessible as it is now, seems many have either forgotten about or moved it lower on their lists of must-see places. Just my opinion and observation, of course, but I hope it stays that way.

    That said, I'd like it to remain a part of the U.S. for sure. However, I rather enjoy the feeling of being in another country when I'm there. All of the street signs are in Spanish, the history that pulsates throughout the island is fascinating and broadly celebrated, and (outside of the tourist traps) you're hard-pressed to find anyone speaking English (which can be frustrating, but at the same time adds to a sense of adventure and experience). That there are still beautiful places in PR that are virtually untouched (like the rainforest) by human hands makes me even more concerned about full statehood. I'm not sure what would change if it were to become an actual state, but I'm afraid to find out. Puerto Ricans have a sincere sense of pride about their home and, even though it's technically American soil, it has the feel of a country within a country that I rather enjoy.

    On the other hand, the Puerto Rican people should have more of a voice (i.e. a vote) in our government and should, therefore, be subject to the same financial responsibilities as the rest of this country. There are pros and cons on each side of the issue, I guess. And, since I have very selfish reasons for wanting it to remain a commonwealth, I say let the Puerto Rican people have their say.

    A very well-written article about a place that I love…thanks!

  22. Oregon_Trail says:

    Puerto Ricans if you want to now pay U.S. Federal Income taxes (IRS), State taxes, and have ALL the crap that this brings, then good luck… As it stands now I think having the financial protection and STILL maintain your sovereignty well, that's a pretty good gig…

  23. mark rodriguez says:

    Everything is and has been in place for Puerto Ricans to decide for themselves thier own determination. It has been voted on three times, through the proper process. This is Washington tryng to force the Puerto Ricans to make a choice that is one sided. Puerto Ricans are very political and very active at the local level. They are able to decide on thier own, thier future. If Puerto Ricans, through the political system already established, decide to vote for statehood, that is thier right. It is a right they already have. This bill is more for the politicians in Washington, than for the Puerto Rican people. Both of my parents were born in Puerto Rico.

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