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Biden to pardon all federal offenses for simple marijuana possession, review criminalization



WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced executive actions that would pardon thousands of people with prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession.

Biden then called on governors to follow suit with state offenses for simple marijuana possession, saying that “just as no one should be in a federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison for that reason, either.”

The president also directed U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review how marijuana is classified under federal law as a Schedule I drug, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s most dangerous classification, including substances like heroin and LSD.

Biden’s executive order to pardon simple possession includes the District of Columbia as well as people convicted in the federal court system.

“Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit,” Biden said in a statement.

‘Failed approach to marijuana’

The move is intended to address the country’s “failed approach to marijuana,” a senior administration official said Thursday afternoon, minutes before the announcement.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in 19 states, including Virginia, but there is still a mix of laws related to the drug. In 38 states, marijuana is allowed for medical purposes. Several others consider marijuana illegal in all forms.

Civil rights organizations and researchers have shown that charges for marijuana possession disproportionately affect Black and brown communities. For example, the ACLU found that Black people were 3.7 times more likely to be charged with marijuana possession compared to white people.

Police made 663,000 arrests for marijuana-related offenses in 2018, according to FBI data, which amounted to 40% of all drug arrests for that year.

A senior administration official said Thursday, “while white, Black, and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are disproportionately in jail for it.”

Senior administration officials said that even if a person has not been charged with or convicted of marijuana possession, as of Thursday’s date, “the pardon does cover that conduct.”

The Department of Justice will create an administrative process for those who are pardoned to obtain a certificate of their pardon “so that they will have documentation that they can show to law enforcement, employers, and others as needed,” a senior administration official said.

States moved first

States began decriminalizing or legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in 2012 when Colorado and Washington’s voters passed statewide ballot measures. Over the next decade, 17 more states followed suit. Those states have operated for years in conflict with federal laws that have kept the substance strictly illegal.

Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize marijuana in 2021, although state lawmakers have struggled to agree on the parameters of a retail market.

Marijuana will be legal in Virginia on July 1. Here’s what is and isn’t permitted under the new law.

The U.S. House passed legislation earlier this year to legalize marijuana nationally, but the bill failed to gain traction in the Senate.

The House voted 220-204 to approve the measure, which would fix the split between federal law and law in states where recreational marijuana is legal. Three Republicans joined all but two Democrats in approving the measure.

Democratic lawmakers reacted positively to Biden’s announcement, and several called for full legalization.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said federal drug policies relating to marijuana have harmed communities of color and torn families apart.

“These transformative actions are the latest manifestation of Democrats’ unyielding commitment to justice, especially for those unfairly harmed by cannabis criminalization,” she said in a statement.

“A great first step for equitable treatment under the law — but we can and we will do more when we (expand) our Democratic majorities in November,” Virginia’s Rep. Gerry Connolly said. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine called the move “wise and compassionate.”

U.S. Sen Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, applauded the move in a statement and called for passage of a bill he sponsored, along with New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, that would remove the substance from the list of controlled substances and expunge the records of anyone convicted of a marijuana-related crime.

“Legal protections for victims of the War on Drugs should be codified in law, cannabis should be descheduled and a federal regulatory system should be put in place to protect public health and safety,” he said.

Schumer called the action “historic” and said he hoped it would catalyze further congressional action.

“For far too long, the federal prohibition on cannabis and the War on Drugs has been a war on people, and particularly people of color,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “President Biden’s action to pardon people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law is a huge step forward to correct decades of over-criminalization.”

Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat, said in a statement that incarcerating people for possession of marijuana does not keep communities safer and is a waste of federal resources.

“We should instead be using those funds on evidence-based prevention and early intervention initiatives that actually reduce crime and save money,” he said.

GOP ties pardons to crime

Many more Democrats than Republicans commented on the move, which is in line with most Americans’ views on marijuana. This month, a MorningConsult/Politico poll found that 60% of respondents favored legalization.

Republicans who did comment largely framed the initiative as soft on crime. Republicans are making rising crime rates a campaign issue in next month’s elections.

“In the midst of a crime wave and on the brink of a recession, Joe Biden is giving blanket pardons to drug offenders — many of whom pled down from more serious charges,” Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican of Arkansas, said on Twitter. An earlier version of the tweet, which was deleted after nine minutes, complained of pardons to “potheads.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is retiring this year, said in a statement that the Justice Department should not issue “blanket pardons” and each offender should be looked at individually. Hutchinson was the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration under President George W. Bush.

“As governor, I have issued hundreds of pardons to those who have been convicted of drug offenses,” he said. “But in this time of rising crime, there should be a clear record of law-abiding conduct before pardons are issued.”

Hutchinson is staunchly anti-legalization and has publicly opposed the proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot that would create a legal marijuana regime in Arkansas.

Candidates campaigning for Congress quickly weighed in on the announcement as well, with Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman saying in a statement that it’s “a massive step towards justice.”

“Too many lives — and lives of Black and brown Americans in particular — have been derailed by this criminalization of this plant,” Fetterman said.

Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who is running for the open Senate seat, tweeted “legalize it” from his congressional Twitter account.

Schedule 1 drug

Unless Congress changes federal marijuana laws or the president takes further action, marijuana will likely stay classified as a Schedule 1 drug soon.

Senior administration officials said Thursday it will take a while for the HHS secretary and the attorney general to assess if marijuana should stay in the highest classification or drop to a lower category within the DEA’s system.

“The process will take some time because it must be based on a careful consideration of all of the available evidence, including scientific … and medical information that’s available,” the senior administration official said, adding that while Biden hasn’t set a timeline, he wants the review to be “expeditious.”

The DEA has five schedule classifications for legal and illegal drugs, with Schedule 1 including substances with a high potential for abuse and no medical use. Heroin, LSD and peyote are classified as Schedule 1 drugs along with marijuana.

The next category, Schedule 2, is supposed to host drugs with a high potential for abuse, which can lead to “severe psychological or physical dependence,” according to the DEA. Cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and oxycodone are all currently classified as Schedule 2.

Schedule 3 includes substances with a low to moderate likelihood of physical and psychological dependence, such as anabolic steroids and testosterone. According to the DEA, schedule 4 hosts drugs like Xanax, Valium, and Ambien that have a low potential for abuse. And Schedule 5 includes substances with a lower possibility of abuse than Schedule 4.


by Ariana Figueroa, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Fauquier Health Supports Salvation Army and Local Families With Angel Tree Donations



December is an important month of the year where we focus on the holiday celebrations, take time to reflect on the past year, and look forward to beginning a new year. The Fauquier community has a great deal of holiday traditions every year from Feed Fauquier, Christmas Parades, Lights for Life, Angel Tree Donations, and more. This year the Fauquier Health team rallied together to support some of the local families in need as identified by the Salvation Army, located in the town of Warrenton.

According to one of our team members, “This has been an emotional and rewarding experience for us to participate in. We are so thankful to have played a part in this initiative.” Another team member shared, “We really got to see our hospital family come together to support the community we live in. Departments rallied together to help families in need with their wish lists like cribs, technological devices for their child’s education, clothing essentials, outdoor activities, and more.”

About Fauquier Health

Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, VA, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises: Fauquier Hospital, a fully accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs.  Fauquier Health also operates several physician’s offices, including primary care, general surgery, OB/GYN & Midwifery, and other sub-specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at or by calling 540-316-5000.

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Fauquier Health Hosted Pink Out Mammography Nights for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October



During the month of October, Fauquier Health partnered with Fauquier County Government and Public Schools to host its first series of “Pink Out” mammography events. The events spanned two weeks in October where after hours appointments were offered to government and school system employees. These Pink Out events were created to provide ease of access when it came to scheduling a screening mammogram. The events took place after hours on October 18th and October 25th. Altogether, 30 screening mammograms were provided to women who work in Fauquier County.

In addition to providing screening mammograms, attendees were also invited to join various educational presentations on women’s health from providers, including Dr. Victoria McDonald, OB/GYN, Dr. Kearn Ghuman, DO, Primary Care, and Mandy Colegrove, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Free chair massages were offered by a Wellness Center massage therapist as well as delicious refreshments, pink hair tinsel extensions, and raffle prizes that made the evening fun for all attendees. Raffle items were donated by local community organizations including Carter and Spence, Latitudes Fair Trade Store, Appleton Campbell, Village Flowers, Mary Kay, Black Bear Bistro & Brick Oven, Cast Iron Craft House, and more.

According to Sarah Cubbage, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, “Fauquier Health hopes to expand mammography event offerings such as these. Our team feels strongly that breast cancer awareness should not be limited to just one month. The level of demand for the Pink Out events was a very successful start. With the recent welcoming of a second mammography machine, we would like to see these events turn into a more frequent offering. We are grateful to our community partners for helping us make these events a success.”

Pink Out events are an important focus for Fauquier Health to initiate as the rise in breast cancer rates continue to grow year after year. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S., behind skin cancers. In fact, the ACS puts the average risk as a one in eight chance that a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. And according to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is now the most common cancer globally, claiming 12 percent of new cancer cases. Breast cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer death in women, superseded only by lung cancer.

There is, however, some positive news. Those death rates have been steadily dropping. Statistics show that the overall death rate from breast cancer decreased by one percent each year from 2013 to 2018. This decrease can be attributed to several factors, including better treatment for those with cancer, early detection, and advanced technology to detect cancer at early stages.

Mammograms help detect breast cancer earlier than waiting for symptoms to appear. That’s an incredibly important weapon in the fight against breast cancer because that early detection can result in an more effective treatment and a dramatic increase in survival. To schedule a mammogram today, call our central scheduling line at 540-316-5800 or visit us online at

About Fauquier Health

Fauquier Health is a community health system dedicated to high-quality, patient-centered care in a unique environment that considers the multiple facets of healing and respects the individuality of each and every patient. Located at 500 Hospital Drive in Warrenton, VA, Fauquier Health serves the residents of Fauquier and several surrounding counties. It comprises: Fauquier Hospital, a fully accredited, 97-bed hospital; Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, a 113-bed long-term care and rehabilitation facility; the Villa at Suffield Meadows, an assisted living facility; the Wound Health Center and a medically supervised Wellness Center offering health and wellness programs.  Fauquier Health also operates several physician’s offices, including primary care, general surgery, OB/GYN & Midwifery, and other sub-specialties. More information on Fauquier Health is available online at or by calling 540-316-5000.

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Fauquier Health Expands Nursing Using Global Approach



It is no secret that hospitals have faced a major increase in the amount of labor costs resulting from the pandemic. This increase in cost could especially be seen when working through contracted labor and staffing firms. Since the start of the pandemic, Fauquier Health has prioritized finding creative solutions to address the shortage of healthcare workers and as such has expanded its nursing care to include a diverse array of registered international nurses.

On November 15, 2023, the health system held a reception to welcome our new international nurses to Fauquier Health.

In July 2023, Fauquier Health officially welcomed eight international registered nurses from the Philippines to the team including: Cherilyn Valenzuela; Joanne Lagura; Kathyrine Sarzuelo; Suellen Olaco; Dave Galimba; Dorothea Joaquin; Ma Carmela Danao; and Arissa Eusebio. The arrival of these new nurses has been met with excitement and relief. Now five months into their 3-year contracts, these nurses are fulfilling vital and valuable bed-side care across many departments of Fauquier Health including women’s services, skilled nursing, medical/surgical, the emergency department, and more.

“The recruitment of international nurses enriches our team, while our ongoing support for our local colleges reinforces our commitment to the communities we serve,” shared Linda Parnell, Interim-Chief Nursing Officer at Fauquier Health.

One of these new nurses, Suellen Olaco, RN, shared: “As a nurse, I have the opportunity to touch peoples’ lives in many aspects. What I love most is to help people recover from their illnesses and witness their smile in achieving a healthy state of being.”

When asking Dorothea Joaquin, RN, what the best part of her experience at Fauquier has been so far, she commented, “Meeting and working with my colleagues. This is the best place I have worked so far.” She went on to say, “I have enjoyed meeting new friends and fellow Kababayans whom we can call our family away from home. Thank you to Fauquier Health for making our dreams a reality.”

“I am excited to welcome these new nurses to our community and to our Fauquier Health team,” shared Rebecca Segal, Chief Executive Officer at Fauquier Health.

In 2024, Fauquier Health plans to continue expanding upon this new global nursing approach and welcome six more international nurses to the team. For more information on recruitment and career opportunities at Fauquier Health, visit

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Frankie Stamps Sees Dramatic Results From Fauquier Health Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation’s LSVT BIG Program



Frankie Stamps, local community member, has an impressive resume of talents from pickleball and juggling, to underwater diving and over 2,000 skydiving jumps. Saying he tries to stay active is an understatement. What most may not know upon first meeting Frankie, is that he has also been living with Parkinson’s disease for just over 10 years now. After initially being diagnosed with the disease in 2013, Frankie quickly started to understand there are two sides of treatment for Parkinson’s – half is medication, and the other half is exercise.

Frankie Stamps.  Photos/Fauquier Health

Upon initial diagnosis, Frankie was introduced to the LSVT BIG exercise program. “The BIG Program consists of a very specific set of exercises that you are supposed to do twice a day in the AM and then again in the PM,” Frankie shared. “The exercises focus on big movements that are larger than life, so that when you do real life things, your movements are a bit more normal.” Frankie shared that those suffering with Parkinson’s are affected in different ways. For instance, some may have tremors that start on one side and eventually end up traveling to the other side, whereas some don’t experience tremors at all. He elaborated that a great deal of those living with the disease tend to experience a decrease in muscle movements and posture, almost as if they are shrinking in on themselves. According to Frankie, “When you retool your mind to do big exercises and force yourself to take big steps, it becomes seemingly more natural throughout the day. Eventually, this becomes your new normal.”

Several years later, in December of 2016, Frankie told his neurologist he was ready to take a refresher course to fine tune some of those skills he had once learned. However, due to the long commute, he was hoping to find a location closer to Warrenton. Frankie was referred to contact Fauquier Health’s Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation team, located right in the town of Warrenton. Linda Wise, his therapist at the time, worked with Frankie for a duration of about four weeks until he completed the program. Frankie completed 16 total visits.

Fast forward to the current year, 2023, it became apparent to Frankie that he was ready to take another refresher course. After discussing it with his neurologist, he immediately called Fauquier Health’s Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation department. At first, he wasn’t sure if he would still have the opportunity to work with the same therapist as he had in 2017. To his surprise, Linda was once again going to be his therapist. “She quickly remembered me because I teach people to juggle and I tried to teach her six years ago,” he joked. “She told me I haven’t really been practicing how to juggle. I told her, I haven’t really been practicing my BIG exercises, so I guess we are both in deep water.”

The difference this time around is that Frankie is actually working with two therapists – Linda Wise and Leslie Fidler. As LSVT certified therapists, Linda and Leslie apply a level of consistency and discipline to their techniques to ensure effectiveness. Linda is an occupational and physical therapist who is certified in the LSVT BIG exercise program. Leslie is a speech therapist who is certified in the LSVT LOUD program. Similar to BIG, LOUD is a separate therapy that focuses on increasing the volume of your speech and focusing on the pronunciations of your words. Frankie shared that the two therapies often cross over. For example, he found that others had a hard time hearing him when he spoke. Leslie was able to identify that it was not only related to speech, but the direction of speech. Frankie has been working on retooling the way he speaks to others by consciously making sure he is looking up or in the direction of the other person. Sometimes, those living with Parkinson’s tend to look downward which can muffle the volume of their voice. Frankie said, “The care has been excellent. My wife is so happy over the fact that I am standing up straighter and that I am doing a lot better.”

Parkinson’s “BIG for Life” Exercise Classes

BIG for Life Community Exercise is an exercise program led by therapists certified in the LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) technique for Parkinson’s Disease. The classes are available for those living with Parkinson’s Disease to complete targeted exercises and renew their enthusiasm for completing at home exercises. The bigger the movements, the better. To learn more or sign up for a class in the LSVT BIG or LOUD Programs, call Fauquier Health Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation at 540.316.2680 or visit

Fauquier Health Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation is part of the Fauquier Health Orthopedics and Spine service line. Fauquier Health is nationally recognized as a Center of Excellence for Joint Replacement by The Joint Commission.

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Smithfield® Supports Communities During Commonwealth Clash with Donation of 260,000 Servings of Protein



This week, Smithfield® showed that its sponsorship of the Commonwealth Clash goes beyond just supporting athletics through its donation of much-needed protein to food banks in the communities surrounding Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia (UVA). As a part of Smithfield’s Helping Hungry Homes initiative, the brand donation provides 65,000 pounds of protein to the local communities supported by Feeding Southwest Virginia and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to aid in hunger relief for the region.

Smithfield representatives presented the donations during two events at each respective food bank, highlighting the importance of center-of-the-plate protein donations for residents of these Virginia communities. The brand also showed appreciation for the staff and volunteers at each food bank by bringing its Bacon Bus to provide lunch.

“These donations, as a part of the Commonwealth Clash, bring these two universities — Virginia Tech and University of Virginia — together in the most meaningful way possible,” said Jonathan Toms, senior community development manager for Smithfield Foods. “Supporting Feeding Southwest Virginia and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank impacts these communities greatly, and we thank them for their continuous efforts to provide relief to the residents of our home state.”

Since the 2014-2015 academic year, Smithfield has sponsored the Smithfield Commonwealth Clash — the rivalry between Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia across all school-sponsored sports. Throughout the year, the company looks to support the communities surrounding Virginia Tech and UVA.

Feeding Southwest Virginia alone channels over $33 million in food and groceries through 380 partner feeding programs in its 26-county, nine-city region. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank serves those living with hunger across 25 counties and eight cities on either side of the Blue Ridge. With the help of more than 400 programs and pantry partners, it provides nutritious food to well over 125,000 people each month. But protein continues to be one of the biggest needs for local food banks because of costs and limited resources.

“Receiving this donation from Smithfield brings unsurmountable support in alleviating hunger for Southwest Virginia,” said Pamela Irvine, president and CEO for Feeding Southwest Virginia. “We are thankful for the partnership with the high demand for food assistance in our area.”

“Smithfield has our gratitude for this generous donation,” said Michael McKee, CEO of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. “This will provide much-needed center-of-the-plate protein to the residents of our community and continue to provide hope to our neighbors.”

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Lawmakers Try Again to Set a Vote on Puerto Rico’s Status



WASHINGTON – A coalition of senators, House members, and prominent Puerto Rican politicians is pressing Congress to pass legislation that would set a vote on the future of the island territory.

“It’s been more than 100 years since Puerto Rican residents became U.S. citizens … well over 300,000 Puerto Ricans have served in our nation’s military,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, sponsor of the Senate bill, said last week. “I think we should all agree that Americans living in Puerto Rico deserve an overdue permanent and democratic answer on their political status.”

The Puerto Rico Status Act authorizes the island territory of over 3 million residents to hold a federally-binding referendum to choose among three options: statehood, independence, or sovereignty in free association with the United States.

Heinrich’s bill is companion legislation to a House bill introduced in April by Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, R-Puerto Rico.

“For far too long, the people of Puerto Rico have been deprived of the self-determination that they and all people deserve,” Hoyer told Capital News Service. “We owe it to Puerto Ricans to bring an end to their island’s 124-year-old status as a U.S. territory and to grant them control over their island’s political future.”

As House majority leader, Hoyer brought a bill to the House floor in December 2022 to set a status vote for Puerto Rico; it passed the House but was not considered by the Senate.

“I remain committed to working with Puerto Rico’s elected officials and community leaders to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have full autonomy and democratic control over their status,” Hoyer said.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, is among 21 other senators co-sponsoring the Senate measure.

“The United States is grounded in the principle that every citizen has the right to self-determination and representation in government,” Van Hollen told CNS. “While we are always working to reach this ideal, one way we continue to fall short is in denying the people of Puerto Rico these core American rights.”

Puerto Rico has been an American territory since 1898, when the United States acquired the island during the Spanish-American War.

The island’s residents are U.S. citizens but do not enjoy some of the same rights as residents of the 50 states, such as voting for president. Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner serves in the House but lacks voting power.

Critics say the territorial status has often resulted in Puerto Rico not receiving ample attention or much-needed aid when natural disasters strike, most notably when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017.

“When I go to some parts of Puerto Rico that are without power in the wake of natural disasters, I say if this happened in Connecticut, there’d be riots in the streets,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. “It is unfair and unjust for the people of Puerto Rico to be treated as second-class citizens. Colonial status must end.”

The latest congressional effort to get a vote on Puerto Rico’s status faces strong headwinds: nine previous bills and resolutions dating back to 1998 previously failed.

Puerto Ricans have voted in six referendums since 1967 on the issue of their political status. The past three referendums in 2012, 2017, and 2020 showed a majority support for statehood, but the issue faces partisan roadblocks in Congress, which ultimately decides if the island can become a state.

When the issue was voted on in the House in December of last year, the vote was 233-191. All Democrats but only 16 Republicans voted in favor of allowing Puerto Rico to vote on its future. The bill died as a new Congress was sworn in a month later.

In the first 70 years of American independence, debates on admitting new states to the Union revolved around whether they would be slave or free. Today, that debate is focused on whether a new state would be a Democratic or Republican state and send delegations representing those parties, which could flip the balance of power in the House or Senate or both.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in 2020 that statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia was part of the Democrats’ “radical” agenda. McConnell and other Republicans believe the admission of the two would send four Democratic senators to Washington, giving the Democratic Party a powerful advantage in the closely divided Senate.

Senators at last week’s press conference rejected that argument.

“Oftentimes when states come in and everyone assumes they are always going to be Republican or they are always going to be Democrat, and then the voters prove themselves to be independent,” Heinrich said. “We’ve seen that with Hawaii, we’ve seen that with Alaska, and I think this is about being true to the will of the people.”

The senator acknowledged that the path from territory to state can be arduous.

“It took us 50 New Mexico statehood bills to get there – many, many decades before we finally became the 47th state of the United States,” Heinrich said.

Some senators said they had constituents deeply interested in the future of Puerto Rico.

“We are home to more than 288,000 Connecticut residents of Puerto Rican descent, the highest density of Puerto Rican heritage anywhere in the country,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut.

The sponsors see the legislation as the best attempt yet to bring the issue of Puerto Rico’s future to a resolution.

“This bill is a compromise between members of the House that sit on different sides of the question of final status, but who agree that now is the time to make that decision,” Murphy said.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the 22 senators on the bill was “the highest number of original co-sponsors in history.”

“That bodes well for our fight for equality,” said the governor, who faces a challenge from González-Colón in next year’s Progressive New Party gubernatorial primary. The PNP is pro-statehood.

Besides Hoyer, cosponsors on the House Puerto Rico bill include Maryland Democratic Reps. David Trone, Jamie Raskin, and John Sarbanes.


Capital News Service

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Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA’s Jet Propulsion[...]
7:30 pm American Legion Community Band C... @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
American Legion Community Band C... @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
Dec 12 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
American Legion Community Band Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
The American Legion Community Band, located in Front Royal, Virginia, was formed in 1986 and has been playing concerts in the area ever since. The conductors and band members are all volunteer musicians from the local[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 13 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
7:00 am Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Dec 16 @ 7:00 am – 10:00 am
Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Join us for pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, biscuits, sausage gravy, and juice/coffee! All are invited for this FREE event. Offering will be accepted.
10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 16 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
1:00 pm The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
Dec 16 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of The Nutcracker, a Christmas classic to be enjoyed by the whole family! When: Saturday, December 16th at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM Where:[...]