Congress approved a binding referendum allowing the territory of Puerto Rico to hold a vote that could officially make it the 51st state in the U.S. or allow it to go its own way.
The U.S. acquired Puerto Rico as a territory in 1898 after the military invaded the island during the Spanish-American War. 
"For far too long, the people of Puerto Rico have been excluded from the full promise of American democracy and self-determination that our nation has alway championed," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md. 5th District). 
The House of Representatives passed the referendum in a 233-191 vote and even garnered some cross-aisle support. Despite the passage, the bill would have to get through the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority, but is unlikely to get past the opposition from Republicans who are against potentially granting the island statehood, according to the Associated Press.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi was in Washington to watch the vote. He told the AP that it was still a historic day that will "create a precedent that we hadn't had until now." 
There are several pros to the island becoming a state, including providing its 3.26 million residents with millions of dollars in federal benefits and, perhaps one of the most important, full Congressional representation. However, no clear majority for approving statehood emerged in prior non-binding referendums.
"Many of us are not in agreement about how that future should be, but we all accept that the decision should belong to the people of Puerto Rico," said Jennifer González, Puerto Rico resident commissioner and the island representative in Congress.