While District leaders advocate for the city to become the 51st state, they also support Puerto Rico achieving statehood and are open to working with the territory’s leadership to see that both join the union together.
As D.C. statehood bills go through the U.S. Congress, Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (NPP-Puerto Rico) have co-introduced statehood legislation for Puerto Rico to become a state, also. Last November, the Puerto Rican residents voted 52.52% in favor of statehood and Gonzalez-Colon wants to proceed with the process.
“The clearest message from the plebiscite vote in Puerto Rico was that the majority of Puerto Ricans — Americans by birth — want equality, a fully democratic form of government, and permanence within the United States that can only be granted through statehood,” she said on Nov. 10, 2020. “Puerto Rico’s different and unequal treatment in federal laws and lack of votes in the government that makes those laws is the primary cause of the island’s economic underdevelopment and decline. It is long past time for the federal government to put Puerto Rico on the path to equality.”
Legislation for Puerto Rico to become a state has gained attention due to the progress of the D.C. statehood bills. In April, the House passed D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s statehood bill for the second consecutive year and last month, Sen. Thomas Carper’s (D-Del.) companion legislation got its second hearing ever before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Some political observers have long speculated the District should work with Puerto Rico to achieve statehood for both, saying the city’s Democratic preference and the island’s tendency to support Republicans balances the political equation regarding representation, particularly in the Senate. If both achieved statehood, the city would send one representative to the House and the island would have four based on census data.
While the District has long been a Democratic bastion, Republicans have tended to be the favored party in Puerto Rico. Officially, Gonzalez-Colon belongs to the New Progressive Party but she caucuses with the House Republican Conference. She has also served as the chair of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico.
The Republican Party presidential platforms since 2008 have called for Puerto Rico to become a state but Democrats embraced self-determination for the island in its platform in 2020.
Republican Presidents Gerald R. Ford, Ronald W. Reagan and George H.W. Bush endorsed statehood for Puerto Rico. In contrast, the three GOP presidents have opposed D.C. statehood even though Ford signaled support for the city to have voting rights in Congress through a constitutional amendment.
While many Republicans favor Puerto Rico statehood, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) doesn’t. He has repeatedly dismissed D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood as bad ideas and suggested both jurisdictions will send Democrats to the Senate indefinitely.
A spokeswoman for Norton told The Informer in an email “Norton supports PR statehood and often references how two states have come into the union at once in the past (usually a blue state and a red one).”
D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman Charles Wilson embraces statehood for Puerto Rico and wants to work with its Democratic Party Chairman Charlie Rodriguez, to achieve full citizenship for the city and the island.
The last two states admitted into the union, Alaska and Hawaii, came in 1959 in January and August, respectively. Recently, there has been talk on Capitol Hill about the District and Puerto Rico doing what Alaska and Hawaii did. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in September on MSNBC spoke positively of the two jurisdictions becoming states together.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) has been a vocal supporter of a statehood deal, too.
“Let’s get together,” Raskin said on April 21. “The Democrats have been arguing for statehood for Washington, D.C. for a long time. The Republicans have been arguing for statehood for Puerto Rico for a long time. I assume everybody means it. Let’s get together and do it the way this has happened periodically, systematically throughout American history.”
However, Ty Hobson-Powell, a lead organizer for 51 for 51 who wants to alter the filibuster rules in the Senate so D.C. statehood legislation could be considered, disliked the idea of a deal.
“The deal was when the American people voted in a new president and vice president in 2020,” Powell said. “The deal was when the people of Georgia elected two new senators in January. I don’t think the rights of American citizens should be negotiated. No deal needs to be brokered for this.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

Join the Conversation


  1. I would rather DC and PR both become Blue States as they want. Since it’s their choice. And because of the already imbalanced numbers of Republican Senators and Democrat Senators. As the majority of Senators are Republicans. But I would rather 1 State be Red and the other State be blue, IF Republicans were to make Statehood for DC and PR conditional. But I would HATE for a condition of both States being Red.

  2. It’s obvious Ty Hobson Powell opposes Puerto Rico statehood.
    He’d rather have NO new states if it means the GOP gets a purple Puerto Rico.
    Powell is a piece-o-s!!
    Puerto Rico will never be a state in our lifetimes, because Puerto Ricos 5% Independence movement has infiltrated the US Democrat party via @AOC , Nydia Velazquez & Raul Grijalva. Grijalva isn’t Puerto Rican, but he shares the leftist dream of a separate socialist Puerto Rican nation. Grijalva & Velasquez chair the powerful US House Committee of natural resources. So PR statehood legislation is dead on arrival.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *