The new governor of Puerto Rico expects ‘considerable support for a statehood bill’ from this Congress

Pedro Pierluisi
Puerto Rico governor Pedro Pierluisi answers questions during a press conference on August 2, 2019 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

  • Puerto Rico’s Governor told Axios that he expects the House to introduce a statehood bill in March.
  • The territory voted in favor of statehood by a slight margin. 
  • Gov. Pedro Pierluisi is hopeful that statehood could grant residents more rights and privileges. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Puerto Rico’s new governor said that the current Congress is “morally obligated” to act quickly on a statehood bill for the territory after residents voted in favor of it during their last election, Axios reported. 

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi told Axios on HBO that he expected the House of Representatives to introduce a bill by mid-March.

“What I anticipate is that there will be considerable support for a statehood bill in this Congress,” Pierluisi said. 

Pierluisi, who was elected governor in the November election and sworn in last month, ran on a promise to gain statehood for the territory, the Associated Press reported. 

The vote for statehood won by a slight margin, with 52% of Puerto Rican voters in support and 47% against. Pierluisi told Axios that statehood is the best way for residents of the territory to get equal treatment with their stateside counterparts. 

“We need a game-changer in Puerto Rico. And one game-changer would be that we get equal treatment in key federal programs,” Pierluisi said, referring to programs like Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit. 

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While Puerto Ricans are citizens of the US, they can’t vote for the US president and don’t have representatives in Congress with full voting powers.

Before becoming governor, Pierluisi was Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in Congress for eight years. This representative is able to vote on matters in the committees on which they serve but is unable to vote on the final passage of bills or for the Speaker of the House. 

“The US could be expanding by admitting Puerto Rico into the union,” Pierluisi said. “It would be telling the world that it is embracing diversity because this would be a truly, completely Hispanic state.”

Advocates say that President Joe Biden’s support of the idea, as well as Democratic control of the House and Senate, makes the idea of statehood, which has been discussed in the past, more likely.

But not all Democrats have been in favor of the idea. Last August, New York Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velazquez proposed legislation that would have allowed the territory to become independent, have self-determination, or become a state, NBC reported.

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China now holds the world’s last giant, single-dish telescope after the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope collapsed

Photo taken on Sept. 24, 2016 shows the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope in Pingtang County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. The FAST, world's largest radio telescope, measuring 500 meters in diameter, was completed and put into use.
China’s 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST).

  • China’s Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) is the largest and last remaining giant, single-dish telescope after Arecibo’s collapse.
  • As China’s moon mission advances, experts say the via its resolution and sensitivity, the FAST telescope will help produce critical research over the next decades.
  • Opened in 2016, in November, Chinese state media reported that FAST could welcome foreign scientists in 2021. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

After tragedy struck the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, the scientific community mourned the loss of an astronomical landmark.

There is now only one last remaining giant, single-dish, radio telescope in the world: China’s 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST). 

Completed in 2016 and located in the Guizhou province of southwest China, the observatory cost $171 million and took about half a decade to build. Its sheer size allows it to detect faint radio-waves from pulsars and materials in galaxies far away; 300 of its 500-meter diameter can be used at any one time.

Experts say that in the next decade, FAST is expected to shine in terms of studying the origins of supermassive black holes or identifying faint radio waves to understand the characteristics of planets outside the solar system. 

In November, Chinese state media reported that in 2021, the FAST facility would become open to use for foreign scientists. 

The National Astronomical Observatory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which oversees FAST, did not immediately respond to comment.

Before and after shots of the Arecibo telescope.

There were some functions that Arecibo’s telescope could do that FAST can’t, however.

“For observation within the solar system, Arecibo was able to transmit signals and receive their reflections from planets, a function that FAST isn’t able to complete on its own. The feature allowed Arecibo to facilitate monitoring of near-Earth asteroids, which is important in defending the Earth from space threats,” Liu Boyang, a researcher in radio astronomy at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, University of Western Australia, told the South China Morning Post

As Business Insider reported earlier in the week, China has made significant strides within the space race as the US has suffered a setback.

China’s Chang’e-5 probe landed on the moon this week, collected lunar samples and the samples have made it back to its orbiter, which will start the process of a weeks-long journey back to earth to deliver the samples. Today, Chinese state media and NASA shared images of China planting its flag on the moon.

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