Washington D. C. - Two hours before announcing that he tested positive for the coronavirus, President Donald Trump remarked that he does not favor statehood for Puerto Rico, not only because he fears it would give Democrats more seats in Congress, but because “a lot of Puerto Ricans don’t want statehood.”
In an interview with Fox News conservative anchor Sean Hannity last Thursday, Trump insisted that Democrats seek statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., and even Guam, to ensure more federal senators and representatives. “They want to put two or three states...they want to have 53 or 52,” Trump said, asking, among other things, “What’s the flag going to look like?” and expressing concern about that helping Democrats to have “a one-party system.”
“A lot of Puerto Ricans don’t want statehood. They’re doing better the way it is now frankly,” added Trump, who had invited Governor Wanda Váquez Garced to a campaign event he scheduled for Friday night in Sanford, FL -just 20 miles from Orlando- aimed at sending a message to Puerto Rican voters in that state which could define the November 3 presidential elections.
The House - with only Democratic votes – approved last June a bill seeking that a large part of the Washington D.C. area becomes the 51st state. That proposal never advanced in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Trump was asked about statehood for Puerto Rico or Washington D.C. after Senate Democratic minority leader Charles Schumer (New York) told MSNBC that if they win a majority in the November 3 election “everything will be on the table,” including eliminating the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to pass a bill normally.
About the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices or statehood for Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, Schumer said that voters in D.C. chose statehood, but those on the island didn´t.
In an interview with The Atlantic in March 2019, Schumer, speaking of his support for statehood for Washington D.C., said that he would also promote the idea for Puerto Rico, but considered that Puerto Ricans on the island “are not sure they want statehood,” ignoring the 2012 and 2017 referendums, also rejected by the federal Department of Justice.
Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell has said that the idea of statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. is part of the Democrats' “socialist” agenda and that he will never give way to a proposal in that direction as long as he controls the legislative process in the Senate.
President Trump would have been in central Florida last night with Governor Vázquez Garced if he hadn´t tested positive for the coronavirus and postponed all campaign events.
The governor posted a photo on Twitter yesterday with Puerto Rico Federal Reconstruction Coordinator, Rear Admiral Peter Brown, and added she asked him to bring President Trump the message that the island has voted for statehood and that she still hopes to have a meeting with the President.
“I trust that they will recover soon, so we can reschedule our meeting to discuss important and pending issues for,” Vázquez tweeted.
Washington Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González said on Twitter that Trump must comply with the Republican government program of 2016 that supported making Puerto Rico a state if its voters decided so. “It is wrong to say that we are satisfied with the current status” - clearly rejected in the 2012 local referendum, Commissioner González said.