A proposal to make the island of Puerto Rico America’s 51st state was introduced by Congressman Darren Soto this month. Although 51 other Congress members have backed the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act, Soto is encountering resistance from members of his own Democratic Party. “I’m just ready to fight,” the Florida congressman told Politico.

Schumer's flip-flop

Politico quoted Soto as accusing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of changing his position on statehood in an effort "to appease politics at home" before Schumer's bid for re-election in 2022.

According to Soto, soon after then-presidential candidate, Joe Biden expressed support for Puerto Rico statehood last year, Schumer did likewise. After the election, Schumer said there was not enough support for statehood, and he would not vote for it until things had changed, Politico noted. "So it's a flip-flop," Soto told the news site.

The Puerto Rico Statehood Council supports Soto's proposal. The website of the non-partisan organization is pr51st.com.

A proposal for 'self-determination.'

Politico and Axios.com noted that two Democrat Congress members from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velázquez, had offered an alternative to Soto's proposal. The congresswomen's Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020 would call for the island to hold a convention where elected delegates would decide whether the island's future should be statehood, independence, or "free association," the US, the news organizations said.

Like Soto, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velázquez are of Puerto Rican descent, according to Politico.

‘The first truly Hispanic state’

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi was interviewed by the Miami Herald soon after arguing for statehood in Washington, D.C. Pierluisi told the paper he did not worry about the island losing its culture after becoming a state.

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“Puerto Rico will be the first truly Hispanic state,” he told the paper. He added that both English and Spanish were currently official languages there “and our goal should be for Puerto Ricans to be fully bilingual.”

After congressional approval of statehood, the island would have one more referendum on statehood, the governor said.

By Pierluisi’s reckoning, the island, as a state, would be represented by two U.S. Senators and four members of the House of Representatives.

Currently the island’s only representation in Congress is a single non-voting commissioner in the House of Representatives. That position is now held by Jenniffer González Colón, a Republican. She is a co-author of Soto's proposal and has often expressed support for statehood on Twitter.

Politico noted that the states of Florida and New York had large Puerto Rican populations which were becoming increasingly influential in political matters.