The leadership of Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party voted unanimously on Monday to submit legislation to the U.S. Congress aimed at making the island the 51st state, local press report.
It remained unclear from reports, however, whether the legislation would require another plebiscite. The party's resolution puts Puerto Rican Resident Comissioner Pedro Pierluisi and ex-Governor Carlos Romero Barceló in charge of outlining a statehood legislation strategy, according to Primera Hora.
A press statement posted to Pierluisi’s Facebook page said the bill would “establish the process to achieve the admission of Puerto Rico as a state in the American Union.”
There are those in the pro-statehood PNP who say they’ve had enough of plebiscites and would like to simply push the question to a vote in Congress. Puerto Rico has remained a U.S. commonwealth despite holding four referendums on the island’s status since 1967.
But the Obama administration did not appear convinced that the last plebiscite amounted to a clear mandate for statehood.
Puerto Rico held a two-part, non-binding referendum on Nov. 6 that energized the island’s statehood movement, but didn’t show majority support for the idea.
The first question asked whether voters were satisfied with their current relationship with the United States. Some 52.4 percent said they were dissatisfied.
The second question asked whether voters wanted the island to become a U.S. state, an independent country, or a freely associated sovereign state -- a type of independence in close alliance with the United States. Remaining a commonwealth wasn’t an option on the second question.
Statehood won the largest share of votes, but more than 480,000 voters cast blank ballots on the second question, leaving statehood with just 44.9 percent of the total.
An item in the White House budget submitted to Congress this month marks $2.5 million for another plebiscite on Puerto Rico’s status.
Pierluisi said earlier this month that he would push Congress to address the status issue with a bill that would "complement President Obama’s request."
CORRECTED: An earlier version of this post referred to Puerto Rico's New Progressive Party as the "National Progressive Party."