Ranking Member Grijalva, Reps. González-Colón, Velázquez, Soto, Ocasio-Cortez, Hoyer, Torres Introduce Puerto Rico Status Act

Washington, D.C. – At a press conference today, Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) was joined by original cosponsors Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), as well as Governor of Puerto Rico Pedro R. Pierluisi, to announce the re-introduction of the Puerto Rico Status Act. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) are also original cosponsors of the legislation. The Puerto Rico Status Act, which passed the House last year, lays out a process for the people of Puerto Rico to determine the future of the island’s political status.

WATCH the full recording of the press conference to introduce the Puerto Rico Status Act.

The Puerto Rico Status Act authorizes a federally sponsored 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.


CLICK HERE for full text of the Puerto Rico Status Act.

HAGA CLIC AQUÍ para la traducción al español.

(The Committee on Natural Resources has published an unofficial Spanish translation of the Puerto Rico Status Act for the general public’s convenience. If there is any inconsistency between the English and Spanish versions of the discussion draft, the English version shall be the prevailing version.)


CLICK HERE for a fact sheet on the Puerto Rico Status Act.

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CLICK HERE for a section-by-section analysis on the Puerto Rico Status Act.

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CLICK HERE for an explanation of the legislation’s citizenship provisions.

HAGA CLIC AQUÍ, para la traducción al español. 


“I am grateful to the many local political and community leaders, residents, legal experts, and staff who contributed to this bill. Thank you also to all the national and local organizations that endorsed the proposal. While Congress must continue advancing federal policies that provide parity to the more than three million U.S. citizens residing on the island, resolving Puerto Rico’s structural limitations – like its territory status – must be a top priority in order to achieve long-term economic and political development on the island,” said Ranking Member Grijalva.

“After more than one hundred years of colonial rule, Puerto Ricans need a democratic mechanism to determine their own future. I’m proud to reintroduce this bill with my colleagues to ensure that the decolonization of the island stays front and center in Congress,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “The people of Puerto Rico must decide their future, and Congress has the responsibility and power to facilitate that process.”

“Last year, we made history with the bipartisan approval of the Puerto Rico Status Act, the first piece of legislation to pass the House, authorizing a binding, self-executing plebiscite on the Island among non-territorial status options only.  In doing so, we set an important precedent, recognizing that Puerto Rico’s current territorial status is the problem and cannot be part of the solution,” said Congresswoman González-Colón.  “With the reintroduction of the Puerto Rico Status Act in this Congress, we seek to further build on this effort and finally end over one-hundred years of inequality and second-class citizenship.  The bill would empower the American citizens of Puerto Rico to democratically determine our future among constitutionally viable, non-territorial options:  Statehood, Independence, or Independence in Free Association.  The people of Puerto Rico have voted on multiple occasions for Statehood and this bill provides the mechanism to achieve that quest. Nothing comes above the people’s will. The Constitution clearly states that solving Puerto Rico's political status is Congress' responsibility. After 125 years of debate the time has come for Congress to commit to real action and end our shameful territorial reality.”

"Puerto Ricans pledge allegiance to our U.S. flag, serve in our military, pay certain federal taxes, and contribute to the fabric of our nation—yet they are still treated as second-class citizens. Last Congress, we introduced the Puerto Rico Status Act which will allow our brothers and sisters on the island to get out of the political limbo they have struggled under for so many years. I am proud of the progress we made last year when we passed this consensus bill in the House and I’m happy to be reintroducing it today. I hope our Senate colleagues will see the importance of passing this bill to create a path forward on the political status of Puerto Rico,” said Rep. Soto.

"I stand united with my colleagues in our shared belief that the people of Puerto Rico must be able to control their island's political future," Congressman Hoyer said. "We came together, negotiated in good faith, and built consensus on this historic piece of legislation to grant Puerto Ricans the self-determination they deserve. As House Majority Leader last Congress, I was proud to bring the Puerto Rico Status Act to the Floor and to pass it through the House on a bipartisan basis.  We will keep pushing Congress to offer the people of Puerto Rico a choice over their future political status, to inform them of their options, and to help implement whatever decision they make.”

It is truly historic in having a process of self-determination and decolonization of the island and that we’re really talking about ending the colonial status. Puerto Ricans will be able to choose from three set statuses that are that are defined: The first is statehood. The second is a free associated state in treaty with the United States. And the third is full independence,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

“It’s long past time for Congress to take action and finally end the current colonial status that is standing in the way of Puerto Rico’s ability to make meaningful progress for its people,” said Rep. Torres. “As I’ve continued to assert, Puerto Rico’s current status represents a deep rot at the very core of American democracy, which is why I proudly support the Puerto Rico Status Act. This legislation finally creates a mechanism in which the people of Puerto Rico can choose between permanent solutions to the question that has defined the lives of U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico for more than 100 years. I look forward to working with my colleagues and Governor Pierluisi to make this a reality once and for all.”


Background on the Puerto Rico Status Act

The lead sponsors first published discussion draft text of the Puerto Rico Status Act in May 2022. A Spanish translation of the text was subsequently made available on the Natural Resources Committee website. 

A congressional delegation visited Puerto Rico in June 2022 to engage with local elected officials and residents on the discussion draft. The three-day visit included several meetings with the leaders of Puerto Rico’s local political parties and a day-long public input forum attended by more than 400 members of the public, including nearly 100 individuals who shared comments and suggestions on the text with the delegation. The Natural Resources Committee also launched an online public submission tool, which collected nearly 120 comments from members of the public, all of which were reviewed and considered for the bill’s final language.

In December 2022, the Puerto Rico Status Act passed the House with bipartisan support, including all House Democrats. This was the first time that the U.S. Congress approved legislation that acknowledges the limitations of territory status on Puerto Rico’s social, political, and economic development.

The Biden administration also issued a Statement of Administration Policy last year supporting the Puerto Rico Status Act, which marked the first time that a Presidential Administration had recognized that Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million residents “have been deprived of the opportunity to determine their own political future and have not received the full rights and benefits of their citizenship” because of Puerto Rico’s territory status.


Key Provisions of the Puerto Rico Status Act

The Puerto Rico Status Act represents an offer from Congress to the people of Puerto Rico to determine their future with confidence that Congress will carry out its responsibility to implement the will of a clear majority of eligible voters in Puerto Rico. Key features of the bill include:

  • Authorizes a federally sponsored plebiscite to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status.
  • Specifies and defines Puerto Rico’s non-territorial status options: Independence, Sovereignty in Free Association with the United States, and Statehood.
  • Provides for an objective, nonpartisan, federally funded voter education campaign leading up to the vote.
  • Establishes a process and timeline for the U.S. Department of Justice to review the plebiscite voter education materials and plebiscite ballot design.
  • Authorizes necessary funds to carry out an initial plebiscite and, if necessary, a runoff plebiscite.
  • Describes the transition to and implementation of each status option in sufficient detail for eligible voters in Puerto Rico to make an informed choice about Puerto Rico’s future political status.
  • Ensures the result of the plebiscite is binding and implements the option that is chosen by a majority of eligible voters in Puerto Rico.


Statements of Support 

“The USHCC recognizes that the inequality inherent in Puerto Rico’s current territory status is an impediment to sustainable economic growth. The USHCC was a proud supporter of H.R. 8393, the ‘Puerto Rico Status Act’ that allows Puerto Ricans to decide their own future. This law will provide policymakers with a clear direction for making significant investments in sustainable infrastructure, public education, healthcare, and workforce development, which are crucial for the long-term growth of the Puerto Rican economy.” – United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)

"LULAC reaffirms its strong support and will continue to fully and actively support efforts by our fellow United States citizens who reside in Puerto Rico with respect to their legitimate right as U.S. citizens to be able to vote for the President and Vice President of the United States of America, as well as for their corresponding voting members of Congress." – League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Press Contact

Lindsay Gressard