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    People march in support of Puerto Rico becoming an independent nation as the economically struggling U.S. island territory voted overwhelmingly on Sunday in favour of becoming the 51st state, in San Juan, Puerto Rico June 11, 2017

    US Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Make Puerto Rico 51st State

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US citizens living in Puerto Rico would be able to vote for US president and send lawmakers with full voting rights to Congress under legislation introduced by House of Representatives members Darren Soto and Jenniffer Gonzalez on Thursday.

    “It's time to end 120 years of colonialism for Puerto Ricans”, Soto said in a Twitter statement. “Today, along with [Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez], I'm proud to introduce the first direct Puerto Rico Statehood bill to admit the island as 51st state of the union!”

    Residents born in Puerto Rico are automatically US citizens who are unable to vote for president of the United States unless they physically move to a US state.

    READ MORE: 'I'll Punch the Bully in Mouth': Puerto Rico Governor's Message to Trump's WH

    Gonzalez, the Puerto Rico's single member in the House of Representatives can cast ballots in committees but is unable to vote on the House floor.

    In a June 2017 referendum on statehood, 97 percent of Puerto Ricans casting ballots choose statehood, but only 23 percent of the island’s electorate voted.

    The territory has held multiple plebiscites on statehood, with results about evenly split between those favoring statehood and continued territorial status. However, votes for statehood have never exceeded 50 percent of eligible voters.

    Meanwhile, the US territory has been reportedly beset by financial problems that regularly affect basic services as well as economic growth. For instance, in August 2015, Puerto Rico defaulted on its $73 billion debt, and defaulted again on 11 May 2015 as it missed a $422 million payment.

    READ MORE: Professor Explains How to Prevent Puerto Rico Hurricane Disaster Recurrence

    Moreover, Puerto Rico was hit in 2017 by severe Hurricane Maria that reportedly has put the death toll at nearly 3,000 people. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the US government has to provide $132 billion that Puerto Rico is estimated for recovery from the calamity.


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