U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., today helped introduce a bipartisan bill to begin Puerto Rico’s transition to statehood, which will provide the American citizens of Puerto Rico with full voting rights and equality under federal law. The bill, authored by Puerto Rico’s Republican delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colón, is called the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018. Including Gonzalez-Colón and Murphy, the bill is cosponsored by 36 Members of Congress, 22 Republicans and 14 Democrats.
“My central Florida district is home to more Puerto Ricans than nearly any other congressional district,” said Murphy. “I care deeply about Puerto Rico because my constituents care deeply about Puerto Rico. But every Member of Congress should care about Puerto Rico because island residents are our fellow citizens. We are part of the same American family and we should have each other’s backs.”
There are over three million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico and over five million individuals of Puerto Rican heritage living in the states, including well over 100,000 in Murphy’s district. Because Puerto Rico is a territory and not a state, Congress can—and often does—treat the people of Puerto Rico unequally under key federal laws. This has impaired economic development and quality of life on the island, which in turn has spurred mass migration to the mainland. And even though men and women from Puerto Rico serve in the military in great numbers and with great distinction, they cannot vote for their President and commander-in-chief, have no U.S. senators, and have a single delegate in the U.S. House who can’t vote on the floor.
“The hard truth is that Puerto Rico’s lack of political power allows Washington to treat Puerto Rico like an afterthought, as the federal government’s inadequate preparation for and response to Hurricane Maria made crystal clear,” said Murphy. “I support statehood for Puerto Rico because I support equality for the people of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans deserve the same rights and responsibilities as their fellow citizens, and Puerto Rico has earned its own star on our nation’s flag.”
In her first term in Congress, Murphy has taken a number of actions to promote equality for Puerto Rico; to help the island recover and rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Maria; and to empower the large and growing Puerto Rican community in central Florida, particularly in the areas of employment, education, housing, and health care. For example, Murphy led a successful bipartisan initiative, which became law in February 2018, to support K-12 schools and colleges in the states that enroll displaced students from Puerto Rico. Murphy also secured equal treatment for Puerto Rico under the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which strengthens families and communities through home visits from trained professionals.
To read Murphy’s floor speech on the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018, click here.