The Mississippi Senator’s alternative legislative proposal would include the option for Puerto Ricans to maintain current status.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) announced his opposition to legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would end Puerto Rico’s status as a commonwealth and require the island’s residents to choose between statehood, independence, or “Sovereignty in Free Association.”

Senator Wicker said that the people of Puerto Rico have a rich and distinct heritage, and they deserve a fair vote for their political future that does not offer a false choice between statehood or independence.

“Despite my colleagues’ claims to the contrary, they have not adequately considered the fact that many Puerto Ricans do not want to change their status and would prefer the option to be left alone,” Wicker said.

Senator Wicker offered an alternative legislative proposal that would allow Puerto Ricans to support maintaining the island’s current status.

Titled the Puerto Rico Status Act, the alternative legislation would authorize a binding plebiscite vote on four options: independence for Puerto Rico, sovereignty in free association with the United States, statehood, or retaining the status of Puerto Rico as a Commonwealth.

The Mississippi Senator said that after extensive consultation with Puerto Rican leaders, he is offering the alternative proposal that would not stack the deck in favor of any option and would provide Puerto Ricans the opportunity to determine their future status through a fair and democratic vote.

“If my colleagues insist on advancing legislation to address Puerto Rico this Congress, I hope they will join me in extending the people of the Commonwealth the full slate of options when choosing their own future,” Wicker added.

Senator Wicker has long supported a process for the people of Puerto Rico to determine for themselves the style of government they desire.

In 2010, the Mississippi Senator expressed his opposition to the Puerto Rico Democracy Act.

“The people of Puerto Rico have a right to determine the island’s future status in a fair and democratic process.  They deserve to have a choice between the current commonwealth status, statehood, and independence.  Eliminating commonwealth status from the vote disregards the wishes of a majority of Puerto Ricans,” said Sen. Wicker. “In the past, I have introduced legislation that would recognize Puerto Rico’s right to convene a constitutional convention, a process that would lead to consensus building and not the exclusion of the majority of Puerto Ricans from their inherent right of democracy.”

In a 2013 op-ed, Wicker said that Puerto Ricans’ satisfaction with being a commonwealth should be respected.