Democrats introduce legislation to make D.C. 51st state

Democrats introduce legislation to make D.C. 51st state
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Congressional Democrats introduced legislation on Wednesday that would make Washington D.C. the 51st state in the union. 

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting Democrat who represents D.C. in the House of Representatives, introduced the measure to the House, while Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware introduced the same legislation to the Senate. Norton said that she had more than 200 co-sponsors in the House, as of Tuesday evening.

“There’s never been a time when statehood for the District was more likely," Norton said in a statement, adding the bill was passed by the House last year for the first time and now had a "record" 202 co-sponsors. With the Senate companion bill also gaining co-sponsors, "we’re ready to achieve voting representation and full local self-government for the 712,000+ residents of the District of Columbia,” said Norton.

Norton said that both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had committed to bringing the bill to the floor for a vote. With Democratic control of the House and Senate, as well as the support of President Joe Biden, Norton said that “this is the time we can finally correct this historic injustice and give D.C. residents the same rights as other taxpaying Americans,” NBC News reports

The bill has a good chance of passing in the House, which is held by a large majority of Democrats, but has significantly lower chances of passing in the Senate. Although Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote to give the Democrats the upper hand, they would have to overcome the filibuster requirement of 60 votes in order to pass the legislation. 

It is unlikely that the vote will receive support from at least 10 Republicans. According to NBC News, many GOP lawmakers have already expressed opposition for statehood for D.C. because an additional two senators would nearly guarantee permanent Democratic control of the Senate.

Carper stated that D.C. statehood isn’t “a Republican or Democrat issue.”

“It’s an American issue because the lack of fair representation given to the residents of D.C. is inconsistent with the values on which this country was founded,” he said. “It is therefore incumbent upon all of us who enjoy the right and the privilege of full voting rights and representation to take up the cause of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia.”

The move is supported by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who said on Wednesday that constituents in D.C. “have been denied the right to participate in our democracy — to have their voices and votes heard in Congress, to help shape the future of our nation, and to have a say on Supreme Court justices.”

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