Bloomberg rolls out plan to make Puerto Rico the 51st state

He released his plan in an op-ed on Monday.

January 28, 2020, 10:26 AM

Breaking with many of his fellow 2020 contenders, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is announcing his support for Puerto Rico becoming the nation's 51st state.

It's in keeping with the strategy he's employed thus far in his late bid: targeting delegate-rich states and territories and skipping the first four early states altogether. Puerto Rico has 51 pledged Democratic delegates.

He announced his stance in an Orlando Sentinel op-ed on Monday, alongside his plan for Puerto Rico's economic development.

“For decades, Puerto Ricans and their interests have been ignored by Washington," Bloomberg wrote. "And there’s a simple reason why: They don’t have a vote in Congress. And so politicians don’t have to care how they feel... There’s a clear solution to this challenge that a majority of Puerto Ricans support. Most presidential candidates for president have been too afraid to back it. Not me. I’ll state it clearly: I support statehood for Puerto Rico. And as president, I will work to pass a bill making it a reality, subject to approval by the people of Puerto Rico – who will make the ultimate decision.”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg greets supporters during a campaign event, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt.
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg greets supporters during a campaign event, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt.
Mary Altaffer/AP

Bloomberg's 2020 competitors Andrew Yang and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland have also clearly articulated their support of Puerto Rico being granted statehood. Others, like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have said that the island should be able to decide through a vote.

Warren visited the island almost exactly a year ago, following her exploratory committee's launch. She also put out a plan in May on debt relief for the island.

Sanders' campaign co-chair is also notably Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan. Biden's position remains unclear.

"It’s a strong, ambitious and achievable plan — and I believe Puerto Rico’s future should be an important part of the presidential debate," Bloomberg wrote. "But my fellow presidential candidates, who have been campaigning for a year, haven’t invested any substantial time or resources there, even though Puerto Rico will award more delegates in the Democratic primary than either Iowa or New Hampshire."

Sanders and Warren worked on recovery legislation together in 2017, which was backed by Mayor Cruz.

This plan from Bloomberg also comes on the heels of his visit to Florida - where Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who represents a district with a large Puerto Rican population. has also already introduced statehood legislation in the House. Murphy endorsed Bloomberg earlier this month.

With a couple of his rivals already with ties to the island, Bloomberg now proposes further measures.

"The time has come to sew Puerto Rico’s star into our national flag," Bloomberg writes. "As president, when voters there are ready to begin the stitching, I’ll bring Congress and the whole country together to get it done."

Along with his essay, Bloomberg's campaign released a plan aimed at the economic boons statehood would offer to Puerto Rico: Medicaid, earned income tax credits and child tax credits.

It would emphasize clean energy initiatives as well, rebuilding infrastructure and helping transition Puerto Rico to a more reliable, decentralized system.

Notably, he also calls for faster transfers of rebuilding and administering disaster response funding -- as Puerto Rico still struggles to deal with not just hurricane devastation -- but a recent string of earthquake aftershocks which have rocked the island.

Bloomberg also said in mid-January that he'd like to make D.C a state, saying he would work with Congress to make that happen.

"The time has come for D.C. to become a state – with full voting rights," Bloomberg said. "And as president, I’ll work with Congress to make it happen."