Puerto Rico's representative in Congress on Wednesday filed a bill that would turn the Caribbean territory into a full-fledged American state by 2025.
"We are treated as second-class American citizens," said Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez, who introduced the legislation. "The territorial status has contributed to the economic crisis. We don't get assigned the same resources."
This bill is not the only step in the island's potential journey toward becoming the 51st state. Puerto Ricans will also be asked to vote in a referendum indicating their preference for statehood or complete independence from the United States. A 2012 vote saw 54 percent of Puerto Ricans wanted their territorial status to end and 61 percent preferred statehood as the next step.
As territory residents, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and are required to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes. However, they have no Electoral College representation, do not have a voting member of Congress, and receive less federal funding than states despite the taxes they must pay. For more on how Puerto Rican statehood could affect the balance of power in Washington, see this analysis from The Week's David Faris.