A bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress Wednesday that seeks to make Puerto Rico the 51st state in the union. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
June 28 (UPI) -- A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress on Wednesday aims to make Puerto Rico a state by 2021.
The Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018 was introduced by Republican Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, a nonvoting members of Congress representing Puerto Rico, and co-sponsored by 36 lawmakers, including 22 Republicans and 14 Democrats.
"This is the first step to open a serious discussion to determine the ultimate political status of Puerto Rico," González said, according to NBC News. "To sum everything up, this is about equality."
Co-sponsor Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said he commends González's efforts on the bill.
"It continues the important conversation about the future of Puerto Rico, and I strongly support her in this endeavor. Together, we can make Puerto Rico the 51st state. Let's make it happen," Bishop said.
Last year, in a nonbinding referendum, Puerto Ricans voted overwhelmingly in favor of turning the U.S. territory into a state. A similar vote was held in 2012 with a similar outcome -- most in favor of statehood. No subsequent action, though, was taken to make it happen.
In a meeting with President Donald Trump last week, Democratic Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló urged the president to support Puerto Rican statehood, adding that the island is "open for business."
"It's important for you to know, Mr. President, that our people have chosen twice in the last five years that we don't want to be a territory anymore. We want to be a state. We want equal treatment," Rosselló said. "Using your words, sir, you want to make America great again. I think we can make it greater and expand to make Puerto Rico the 51st state."