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How Michigan reps voted on Puerto Rico statehood

Washington Wednesday: Michigan reps voted 8-6 in favor of letting Puerto Rico decide its statehood status.

Should Puerto Rico be granted statehood? Michigan’s representatives in Congress think so, and they voted that way earlier this month.

The U.S. House voted overwhelmingly on Dec. 15 to leave that choice to the people of Puerto Rico, in a vote that would take place in November 2023. Michigan’s 14-member House delegation voted in favor of letting the people of Puerto Rico choose whether to join the union.

House Bill 8393, “The Puerto Rico Status Act,” passed by a large margin of 233-191, with six representatives not voting. The bill would need to pass the Senate and be signed by the president to become law.

Among Michigan’s congressional delegation, the margin was tighter, 8-6 in favor.

Only one lawmaker crossed party lines. The retiring Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, voted in favor of letting Puerto Rico choose. Upton was one of only 16 Republicans to support the bill. Not a single Democrat voted against it.

In December 2017, Upton was part of a bipartisan group from the House Energy and Commerce Committee to visit Puerto Rico after a storm knocked out power in the U.S. territory. Upton then co-authored an op-ed in The Hill about the trip, which included a stop in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Our main takeaway from the trip is that the federal government’s effort to help our fellow Americans in these island territories needs to be sustained for months – or even years to come,” wrote Upton and Rep. Diana Degette, D-Colorado.

The congressional summary for House Bill 8393 explains what the bill calls for:

This bill provides for a plebiscite to be held on November 5, 2023, to resolve Puerto Rico's political status.

Specifically, such plebiscite shall offer eligible voters a choice of independence, sovereignty in free association with the United States, or statehood.

If Puerto Rico chose statehood, that decision would be binding on the United States, per House Bill 8393. America would have its 51st state, and two more senators.

Eight representatives from Michigan favored the bill. They are:

Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn

Dan Kildee, D-Flushing

Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield

Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly

Haley Stevens, D-Bloomfield Township

Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit

Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph

Six reps from Michigan voted against the bill. They are:

Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet

Bill Huizenga, R-Holland

Lisa McClain, R-Bruce Township

Pete Meijer, R-Grand Rapids

John Moolenaar, R-Midland

Tim Walberg, R-Tipton

See the roll call vote for yourself.

The Puerto Rico vote would be binding. If statehood is chosen, it would be admitted as the 51st state within a year. As the bill reads:

Upon receipt of the Elections Commission’s certification of the plebiscite results pursuant to section 5(d), the President shall issue a proclamation declaring the date that Puerto Rico is admitted as a State of the Union on an equal footing with all other States, which shall be a date not later than one year after the effective date of the plebiscite results.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.