Yesterday the House of Representatives passed a bill 223–169 that authorizes a two-part plebiscite on the question of Puerto Rican statehood. The first vote would simply ask Puerto Ricans whether they want to change the status of their territory. If “yes” wins, another vote would be held with the options of statehood, keeping the status quo, full independence, or “sovereignty in association with the United States.” Even if Puerto Rico voted for the first time to become the 51st state similar votes failed narrowly in 1998 and 1993 Congress would still have to concur, and that’s where the politics would get interesting.
The statehood question splits representatives of Puerto Rican descent, it splits Republican leadership, and it would change apportionment of House seats (Puerto Rico would get six) and the electoral-college map. Perhaps most significantly, it would also alter the flag. But according to Wikipedia, people have figured this one out already, and we can either go with seventeen lines of three stars each, or one big cool-looking circle — both of which are better than what we had initially envisioned, which was smushing another star somewhere in our current flag.
Congress Debates Puerto Rico Statehood, Independence [AP via HuffPo]