Luis Fortuno, the governor of Puerto Rico, argued Wednesday that the sacrifices made by Puerto Ricans argues strongly for Puerto Rico - now a commonwealth - to become America's 51st state.
"We have been American citizens since 1917," the Republican governor said in a "Washington Unplugged" interview. "We've fought in every single war even since then, actually, with courage and valor, and in greater numbers than most states. Proportionally speaking we actually produce more men and women in uniform then every state than one. So we have demonstrated that we are proud of being part of the nation. Yet when tough decisions are made, we're not around the table. And that makes no sense. So we should either be in or out."
Fortuno said statehood requires nothing more than a majority vote in the House and Senate and the signature of a president. But he added that it's a "process" that could take years, suggesting it potentially involves a new referendum on the part of Puerto Ricans in which they affirm support for statehood. (Puerto Ricans have on three different occasions declined to support statehood in referenda; Fortuno says those referenda asked the wrong questions.)
Asked if the fact that many Puerto Ricans do not speak English argues against statehood, Furtuno noted that all schoolchildren on the island are now taught both languages, adding that the commonwealth is becoming increasingly English-speaking. He also said that Puerto Ricans, who currently receive Social Security benefits but do not pay federal income taxes on income earned on the island, should have to pay federal income taxes if they achieve statehood.