Two Pennsylvania Republicans joined Democrats and 14 of their Republican colleagues in voting for a bill on Thursday that would set a vote for Puerto Ricans to determine the future of the territory’s political status.
The legislation, dubbed the Puerto Rico Status Act, passed the House in a 233-191 vote. It calls for setting a plebiscite for Puerto Rico residents to determine whether or not they want statehood, independence or independence followed by free association with the U.S. Additionally, the legislation would establish a federally-funded, objective and nonpartisan voter education campaign that would run before the vote.
Get the latest Pennsylvania politics and election news with abc27 newsletters!
All Democrats and 16 Republicans supported the measure, including GOP Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Mayra Flores (Texas), Andrew Garbarino (N.Y.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Bill Huizenga (Mich.), Dave Joyce (Ohio), John Katko (N.Y.), Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Bill Posey (Fla.), María Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Lloyd Smucker (Pa.) and Fred Upton (Mich.).
Seven of those Republicans — Bacon, Fitzpatrick, Garbarino, Katko, Posey, Salazar and Upton — are co-sponsors of the bill.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) is listed as a cosponsor but voted against the bill on Thursday. The Hill reached out to his office for comment.
Smucker spoke in support of the bill during debate on the House floor Thursday, arguing that the measure would be a “net positive” if Puerto Rico decides to become the 51st state in the U.S.
Get traffic alerts from the abc27 mobile app for the latest local delays and road closures
“We have not provided them every tool we possibly can to ensure they can be prosperous,” Smucker said.
“Let’s give every tool that we possibly can — include full citizenship in the United States of America, if that is what they choose — to be prosperous, to contribute to the American economy, and I think we can look at this as a net positive. It will be a net positive if, indeed, Puerto Rico chooses to become the 51st state,” he later added.
The Pennsylvania Republican did, however, note his understanding of GOP criticisms that the bill came up quickly and leaves several questions unanswered, depending on what Puerto Rico residents decide in the vote.
Salazar celebrated the House passing the bill on Twitter, writing in Spanish that it was “a historic day.”
Stay up to date on the latest from abc27 News on-air and on the go with the free abc27 Mobile app.
The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it faces an unlikely future as the chamber requires at least 60 votes for passage.
A group of lawmakers announced a deal on the measure Wednesday night. Shortly after, it was added to the House schedule for Thursday.