Congress must at on PR referendum

Puerto Ricans voted to become the 51st state in a referendum that took place on June 11. Because the referendum is nonbinding, Congress will make the final decision on Puerto Rico's status.

This is the fifth time that Puerto Ricans held such a referendum. However, the island's current situation is more dire than it was in 2012, when the last referendum took place. This year, Puerto Rico's debt reached $120 billion. Because Puerto Rico is not a state, it cannot declare bankruptcy. Instead, it has to file for bankruptcy protection, which does little to resolve the crisis. On top of that, the island's skilled workers are leaving for the continental United States at a fast pace, causing shortages in fields like medicine. Puerto Rican doctors earn much less than doctors on the continental United States, which is one of the main reasons behind the move.

Puerto Rico's situation is reaching a point at which it can no longer be ignored by Congress. Congress needs to finally address the results of the referendum, which has been voted on by U.S. citizens. Currently, Congress shows that it does not care for Puerto Ricans. The BBC speculates that a Republican Congress will once again ignore the referendum. If Puerto Rico became a state, the island would likely vote for the Democratic Party and require additional funds to pay off its debts.