Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress [Updated September 14, 2007] [open pdf - 318KB]
"U.S. sovereignty over Puerto Rico originated with the acquisition of the islands in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. […] Puerto Rico is subject to congressional jurisdiction under the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Over the past century, Congress passed legislation governing Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States. […] In the 110th Congress, the Resident Commissioner may vote in legislative committees and in the Committee of the Whole. Elements of the U.S.-Puerto Rico relationship have been and continue to be matters of debate. […] A report issued in December 2005 by a presidential task force on the status of Puerto Rico asserts that there are only three constitutionally recognized options for the islands: independence, statehood, or continuation as a territory. In response to the task force report, legislation before the 109th Congress would have addressed the status question through two different mechanisms -- plebiscites or a constitutional convention. Congress took no legislative action on those bills. To date in the 110th Congress, three bills regarding Puerto Rico's political status have been introduced. H.R. 900 authorizes a plebiscite in which Puerto Ricans would vote on continuing the status quo or proceeding toward non-territorial status. H.R. 1230 authorizes a constitutional convention and referendum in Puerto Rico to consider status options. S. 1936 proposes a third approach: a single plebiscite in which voters would choose between the status quo, independence, free association, or statehood."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32933