Puerto Rico statehood -- how would it work?

  1. Objective question asked and answered: admission as a state is by straight out Act of Congress.

This may take the form of a Bill or Joint Resolution depending on what it takes to get the votes through, and historically you do NOT “ride” it into a reconciliation or omnibus bill

  1. Number, order and timing of steps, ratifications, terms and conditions, transition process, etc. unless the specific matter has already been decided previously by statute or court precedent, are usually considered “political questions” for whichever sitting Congress to deal with as it sees fit, and have pretty much been handled as per individual circumstance for every state that has come along.

  2. Actually doing anything at all about the result of the vote is itself the biggest “political question” of them all, Congress is fully in its constitutional and political faculties able to just say “How nice. Thanks for sharing.”

  3. Political opposition to admission has been an issue as late as Hawaii and it does not have to be an R vs D thing - Most often it’s as a front for economic interests.

  4. Not asked but the 51 through 54 star flags have been designed for years, just in case.

  5. Not asked either but as to Seats: Before 1912, the House of Representatives simply expanded by an estimate of the required number of seats with each state admission and that new total was then reapportioned after the next census. Then the membership was locked at 435 and when Alaska and Hawaii were admitted in 1959, the House was* provisionally* expanded to 438 until the 1962 reapportionment could be done to revert to 435. If admission of Puerto Rico does not take place to coincide exactly with a Census it would involve 4 or 5 provisional seats until next reapportionment, or conceivably and as a way to garner votes, a permanent expansion of the total to 439-441 so no other state loses seats.

  6. With a population density of 980 per sq. mi. and having been Spanish-settled since 100 years before Englishmen settled Jamestown, it’s highly unlikely that there would be significant enough relocation into the island to effect fast anglification.

  7. And at this point we begin veering off into GD or at the very least IMHO territory, there being little else to be said about this that would be an objectively-answerable GQ.

JRDelirious what’s the chance in your opinion of a heavy (70% or so) vote for Statehood?

Added, because it does have a factual:

Actually Free Association was defined as not the statu quo, but a variant of national sovereignty.

However, there was a requirement that in order to use 2.5M in federal elections dollars for this, they needed to have it vetted by US DoJ. In Mid-April US DoJ proceeded to issue a memo to the effect that what was presented was not satisfactory and recommended:

(a) that the alternative of remaining in territorial statu quo be reintroduced – with the strong suggestion that the ballot question NOT imply it’s an offer from Congress to grant an enhancement or expansion of autonomy, as in DoJ’s opinion that would be unconstitutional, but simply a choice to stand pat.

(b) that it be expunged from the statehood definition that it 's the only alternative that ensures birthright US citizenship, as it already exists under the statu quo.

(c) that it be clarified that Free Association* as it is recognized by the USA *is a form of Separate Nationhood Sovereignty, NOT an enhancement of the “commonwealth”, and that language be expunged from the ballot definition that would suggest it would include an offer to countenance continuing birthright citizenship.

The local administration has proceeded to reword the ballot question strictly as per the DoJ Memo, including presenting alternative (a) as “territorial statu quo” and not using the word “commonwealth”. Of course even with this change now there’s likely no time for the vetting to happen again to get the funds, so it will be held fully at our own cost.

As a result of these events ALL the anti-statehood political parties have announced they will boycott the vote; the independentists because including statu quo means it’s not really a decolonizing vote, the statu-quo-ers because it does not allow them to write an aspirational definition of their alternative.

ETA: AK84 - as things stand right now, it would look very likely, but with a high rate of abstention tainting its political weight. Under the original wording I’d have placed Statehood into at least the high 60s depending on how the turnout machinery moved.

Probably a little, but I wonder if it would be enough to make up for the federal income tax. I mean, I assume that the federal government would start to tax income in PR, although I guess it might be phased in over time. I myself wouldn’t support statehood without (federal income) taxation.

No representation without taxation then :slight_smile:

Well, duh, of course the rule of taxation will be uniform for all the states, the Constitution explicitly provides so. It would again be a matter of political negotiation as to the phase-in. OTOH federal funding coming in would also be made uniform realative to population and economic need, and we’d be relieved of some things that we now need to fund with local taxes alone, so it is likely to be a wash for most people here.

BTW: For discussion of the recent statehood-related vote in non-GQ context: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=828377

Er… we took California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and a chunk of Colorado away from Mexico, and being they were owned by Mexico at the time presumably the official language was Spanish, as well as being the language of a good portion of the population at the time. Along with Texas, those states have always had a large Spanish speaking population and in many ways have been de facto bilingual for a long time. As noted, Louisiana was largely French-speaking at the time the US acquired it. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have French-speaking communities. Hawaii is officially bilingual (English and, of course, Hawaiian).

In other words, this is nothing new in the good ol’ USA.

The US has no official language. English is the most common language by a large margin, but there is no legal requirement to use it as such. We do so due to history and custom, not law.

Puerto Rico has two official languages: Spanish and English. Granted, most of the people on the island are primarily Spanish-speaking, but in interacting with the rest of the US Puerto Rico already uses English.

I really don’t see a major issue here, or a reason to oppose statehood if that’s what the Puerto Ricans decide on (there are some issues with low voter turnout in the recent vote).

But then, I’m weird - I studied French sufficiently to be able to communicate with French-speakers, and I’ve lately taken up the study of Spanish. In addition to learning a bit about Esperanto and Irish Gaelic. Other languages do not frighten me.

Is there some reason we need to worry about “purity” here? Almost the entirety of recorded human history is us moving around and cultures changing, melding, and adapting. Why do some people decide that they themselves have determined a point where “Ok, this is the way it should be and nothing should change from here on out?”

a region’s “essential character” is not simply “the way things were when I learned about it.” a lot of cultural “traditions” really aren’t that old. e.g. tomatoes being associated with Italian cuisine, even though the tomato is a New World vegetable.

Many southern senators opposed the entrance of Hawaii as a state because of their multiculturalism. It was certainly the reason why it became a state after Alaska did. Lyndon Johnson blocked several Hawaiian statehood bills because of this.

Congress and Trump should make a deal with Puerto Rico. The US will assume all the debt and Puerto Rico gets its independence.

Why? Especially why would the US do that when the recent vote in PR indicates that (among those bothering to vote) they residents want to be part of the US? Why on Earth would the US voluntarily take on more debt? Nothing in that statement makes sense.

With a time machine?

That last proposition about debt may be better for the other thread, as it is not a factual but a policy matter.

TokyoBayer I think he means while in the Senate.

I don’t think the Senate Majority Leader from 1955-1960, Lyndon B. Johnson, would need a time machine to block a bill in from passing in the late 1950s.

The Puerto Ricans voted 97-3 percent for statehood.

HOWEVER, only 23% of Puerto Ricans voted. Even compared to a U.S. off-year Congressional election, that’s a pretty poor turnout to decide an issue this big.

Opponents called for a boycott of the election because the ballot offered only the choice between statehood or independence, without an option to keep the status quo.

The ballot did include an option for status quo. The status quo faction just didn’t like the way that option was phrased.

Og, if it be thy smashing will, bring back the lost art of reading whole threads…

He was majority leader in the senate.

Not necessarily.

I seem to recall (from long-ago history classes) that when the United States was formed, it explicitly declined to take on the debts of the various state governments as a Federal obligation. They either stayed debts owed by the individual state governments, or were disclaimed entirely.

I don’t think it likely to be done that way now, since much of PR’s debt is owed to various US taxpayers & corporations. And Congress doesn’t want to give any precedents that might give states like Illinois or Kansas.