US Rep Rob Bishop says he supports statehood for Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Another Republican official has declared his support for granting Puerto Rico statehood.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah said Friday, however, that the U.S. territory first has to have a vibrant economy and a stable government. The island is trying to restructure a portion of its more than $70 billion public debt load amid an 11-year recession.

Bishop visited the island with Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress, Jenniffer Gonzalez, who said he has been a great ally as the island struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria. However, Gov. Ricardo Rossello has previously clashed with Bishop, and his office said he was unable to meet the congressman because his agenda was full on Friday.

Bishop also said he will hold an oversight hearing to help make a federal control board overseeing the island’s finances more efficient. He is the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over U.S. territories.

Bishop recently said he was frustrated with what he called the board’s “inability and unwillingness” to reach consensual restructuring deals with creditors.

Bishop’s statement comes just days after Florida Gov. Rick Scott also said he supports statehood.

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