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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Puerto Rican Statehood: Effects on House Apportionment

Royce Crocker
Specialist in American National Government

For years, the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have been involved in discussions relating to changing the political status of Puerto Rico from a commonwealth of the United States to either the 51st state or an independent nation, or maintaining the status quo as a commonwealth. 

In the 111th Congress, H.R. 2499, introduced by Representative Pedro Pierluisi, would establish procedures to determine Puerto Rico's political status. It would authorize a two-stage plebiscite in Puerto Rico to reconsider the status issue. H.R. 2499 is similar to H.R. 900 as introduced in the 110th Congress. A possible outcome of this process is Puerto Rican statehood. 

Proposals to change Puerto Rico's governmental relationship with the United States from a commonwealth to some other model raise many political, social, and economic issues. This report focuses exclusively on what impact adding a new state that is more populous than 24 of the existing 50 states would have on representation in the House of Representatives. 

Statehood for Puerto Rico would likely cause Congress to explore whether the current limit of 435 seats in the House of Representatives should be changed. If Puerto Rico had been a state when the 2000 census was taken, it would have been entitled to six Representatives based on its 2000 census population of 3.8 million residents. Based on current estimates of almost 4 million residents, Puerto Rico would still be entitled to six Representatives if it were to become a state today. 

If the House were faced with the addition of six new Representatives, it could accommodate them either by expanding the size of the House or adhering to the current 435-seat statutory limit, which would reduce the number of Representatives in other states.

Date of Report: March 11, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R41113
Price: $29.95

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