Puerto Rico just took a small step in the direction of becoming the 51st U.S. state.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) submitted legislation Wednesday that would mandate a referendum asking Puerto Rican residents if the island should become a U.S. state in an up-or-down vote. The Senate resolution, called the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act, is an identical companion version to legislation already filed in the House by the island’s non-voting representative, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi.
“In 2012, 54 percent of Puerto Ricans rejected their current relationship with the United States,” Heinrich said in a press release. “We have a responsibility to act on that referendum, and this step is critical in that effort. My home state of New Mexico spent 66 years as a territory before gaining statehood in 1912 -- the longest of any state. Puerto Rico has spent nearly 116 years as an American territory. That’s long enough.”