Padilla Introduces Legislation to Allow Puerto Rico to Determine Its Political Status

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced the Puerto Rico Status Act, legislation that lays out a process for the people of Puerto Rico to determine the island’s future political status. U.S. Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.-07), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.-07), Darren Soto (D-Fla.-09), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.-05), and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón (R-Puerto Rico) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The bill is also supported by Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi.

“All citizens of the United States should enjoy the same fundamental civil rights, regardless of where in our country they are born or reside. But for 100 years, the people of Puerto Rico have lived as American citizens without the full benefits of citizenship,” said Senator Padilla. “Despite contributing billions of dollars in federal taxes each year, Puerto Ricans are denied voting representation in Congress and access to crucial programs funded by their tax dollars like SNAP and Supplemental Security Income. This is a living contradiction that cuts to the essence of who we are as a democracy — and we must do better. I will keep fighting alongside Senator Heinrich and my Senate colleagues to give Puerto Rico the right to determine its future.”

The Puerto Rico Status Act authorizes a binding, federally sponsored referendum, known as a plebiscite, to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status. The legislation details the transition to and implementation of a non-territory status for Puerto Rico — Statehood, Independence, or Sovereignty in Free Association with the United States — that is chosen by a majority of voters in Puerto Rico. 

The Puerto Rico Status Act was drafted with extensive input from members of Congress; local elected government officials; citizenship, immigration, and constitutional law experts; and hundreds of residents of Puerto Rico. 

The legislation previously passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis on Dec. 15, 2022. The Biden-Harris administration endorsed the legislation with a favorable Statement of Administration Policy.   

More information on the Puerto Rico Status Act, including a fact sheet, bill text, and one-page explainer of the legislation, is available here


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