Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
July 20, 2022
Contact Info: 
Raymond Rodriguez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) was given unanimous consent to deliver remarks before the House Natural Resources Committee during their Markup of the Puerto Rico Status Act. Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here for a link to the video.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for allowing me this privilege of addressing that was unusual as a non-Member of this Committee. And I thank Mr. Westerman for his agreement. Well, I also thank you for some other things that hopefully we're gonna be working on together.
“I went to Puerto Rico in 1976. I was President of the Maryland Senate at that point in time and there was a NCSL meeting, National Conference of State Legislators, which of course which Puerto Rico was a member and it first occurred to me at that point, in 1976 that Puerto Rico was for all intents and purposes treated as a partner, but in so many real ways was not a partner and certainly not an equal partner.  In 1986, I had come to the Congress of the United States and first expressed my support for statehood. But also as I think all of us would agree, that is not our decision. It is the decision of the people of Puerto Rico, whether or not they want to be a citizen of the United States – a part of the United States – or if they want to be an independent nation.  
“As a principle, America supports strongly across the world, self-determination. We support in almost every region of the world the opportunity of peoples who are in a region or in a state to make a determination as to whether or not they want to be aligned with others or whether they want to be independent entities. That's a principle of our government and our foreign policy and of our human rights perspectives.
“I want to congratulate [Rep.] Nydia Velázquez and [Delegate] Jenniffer González-Colón for their for their very, very tough work. I also want to congratulate [Rep.] Darren Soto. And I want to say, Mr. Chairman, the Governor of Puerto Rico, elected by all the people of Puerto Rico, is for this bill. I don’t know if he’s submitted his statement but I talked to him yesterday, he’s very strongly for this bill. This bill may not be a perfect bill, because the interests are very varied and the concerns are varied and as Ms. González-Colón and Ms. Velázquez has indicated, it was very tough to get here. But we are here and I would hope that we could give to the people with the opportunity to express their view in a democratic way. That's what this bill does. There are a lot of nuances. There are a lot of this, that, and the others. But at the heart of this bill, is the ability to give to the citizens of Puerto Rico, who also are citizens of the United States, the right to determine their own future. That’s what this is about.
“I know there will be amendments about this, that, and the other. I’ll tell you, I appreciate the position that has been expressed by the Representative of Puerto Rico that if we start amending this bill, we will do what's happened now for decades or a century. We will end up nowhere. We will end up being a colonialist power. One of the things I say around the world is that no country in the world has had so much hegemony power as the United States of America and used it so non-acquisitively.  Almost every other great power throughout the centuries has acquired colonies, has acceded to themselves the natural resources of those colonies, the enterprise of those colonies, the economic positive aspects of those colonies. America has not done that.
“In fact, what we've done is those countries that have been our opponents, we have built up over the years and made them part of the free world and our allies. So, Mr. Chairman, I thank you. I thank the Members of this committee for proceeding on this. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your working with all of the players to try to get to a place where everybody has been treated fairly. And I would hope very sincerely that this committee would take a historical step of moving this forward so that we could put it on the Floor of the House of Representatives, so the House of Representatives can -- not make a decision itself, but give to the people of Puerto Rico the option making a democratic choice on their own status. That's what America is about. And that's what frankly, we've done with so many territories in our own country. And that's what I think we want to give to the people of Puerto Rico. Thank you Mr. Chairman.”