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This Bipartisan Bill Could Make Puerto Rico The 51st U.S. State by 2021

Puerto Rico’s economic situation has only gotten worse since Hurricane Maria hit this past fall.The government has struggled to find ways to get the island back on it’s feet and now lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a new bipartisan bill that could make the U.S. territory the nation’s 51st state by 2021.

The bill, which is known as the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018, was filed by Rep. Jennifer González-Colón. She’s Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner and nonvoting representative in Congress. This bill is the island’s biggest push for statehood in years.

This is the first step to open a serious discussion to determine the ultimate political status of Puerto Rico,” González said. “To sum everything up, this is about equality.”

So far fourteen Democrats and 20 Republicans have backed the bill. Whether the legislation actually passes is a different story. The debate over whether or not the island should become an official state has become more urgent since hurricanes Maria and Irma drastically devastated the island. Many believe it would had received more support if it was a state. The island had already been in a decade long economic crisis before the hurricanes hit and things have only gotten worse.

The hard truth is that Puerto Rico’s lack of political power allows Washington to treat Puerto Rico like an after thought, as the federal government’s inadequate preparation for and response to Hurricane Maria made crystal clear,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) told NBC News.

Earlier this month, Puerto Rico released new figures of the death tolls that happened as a result of Hurricane Maria. The numbers show that over 1,427 people died, though Puerto Rico refuses to confirm those deaths were caused by the storm until another study is finalized by George Washington University.

It’s been months since the storm hit and many Puerto Ricans are still living without power or electricity. Lawmakers believe that the by passing this legislation, the island will finally receive the relief they desperately need.