Congressman working on bill for Puerto Rican statehood

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Less than a day after Puerto Rico voted to make the move toward statehood, a Central Florida congressman says he is working on a bill to make that happen.

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Florida, told Channel 9's Christopher Heath he is crafting a bipartisan bill to begin the process of making Puerto Rico a state.

This is not the first time Puerto Rico has voted on statehood, and while turnout was poor, this vote is still the clearest sign yet that the island is ready to add a star to the American flag.

“I believe we will see statehood for Puerto Rico,” Soto said. “But I believe it will take a little while.”

Soto is the first Puerto Rican elected to Congress from Florida. He is drafting the bill with Rep. Don Yong (R-Alaska) who was on the island Sunday night to observe the results of the vote.

The island has roughly the population of Iowa and while residents are U.S. citizens, they have limited representation in congress and no vote for the president.

Political analyst Maria Padilla points out that the results of the weekend election, which suffered from low turnout, are not enforceable.

“Congress is not committed to the results of any plebiscite,” said Padilla.

That means for Soto’s plan to move forward, Congress must be willing—which seems unlikely given the Democratic lean of the island and Republican control of Congress.