White House Budget Proposes Puerto Rico Status Vote


By Alexandra Lucia-Miller
The White House budget submitted to Congress last week included a $2.5 million appropriation for Puerto Rico to hold another plebiscite on its relationship to the United States, HuffPost Latino reported.

The call for a vote may suggest that the Obama administration has decided against allowing Puerto Rico to become the 51st state based on the inconclusive results from a vote held last year.

“A two-part referendum on Puerto Rico’s status in November left many wondering whether the island had voted to become a U.S. state,” the report states. In the referendum, voters were asked whether wanted to keep the island’s current U.S. commonwealth status. More than half, 52 percent, said they were not satisfied with the country’s current relationship with the United States.

The referendum also asked if voters wanted to become a U.S. state, an independent country, or a freely associated state in close alliance with the United State. About 61 percent of those who answered chose statehood.

However, those who voted for statehood were not the majority. More than 470,000 voters intentionally left the second question blank, and statehood only totaled about 45 percent of the votes.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the vote results remained unclear, which lead to the budget proposal including a second plebiscite.

A statement supporting the proposal from Rep. Pedro Pierlusi, Puerto Rico’s only Congressman, read, “The White House has recognized that, on November 6, 2012, a majority of the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico withdrew their consent to the current territory status, which deprives them of the most fundamental democratic rights.”