Pro-Statehood Puerto Ricans "Not Pleased" By White House Comments

Pierluisi is correct that statehood received more raw votes than keeping the island's territorial status the same, albeit by a thin 7,217-vote margin out of 1.8 million ballots cast. The President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status recommended last year that President Obama and Congress support "any fair, transparent, and swift effort that is consistent with and reflects the will of the people of Puerto Rico. If the process produces a clear result, Congress should act on it quickly with the President's support."

Pierluisi said that standard has been met.

Still, Congress' approval is needed if Puerto Rico is to become the 51st state, and it remains unclear whether lawmakers will take up the issue. The resident commissioner said he would work to convince members of Congress to advance the ball on Puerto Rican statehood by offering voters on the island "one or more status options."

"It's important that Congress do so because Congress has never consulted the people of Puerto Rico and it's about time that it does," he said. "It's important as well that I get bipartisan support for this legislation, and that's what I'll be working on."

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