Efforts to make Washington D.C. the 51st state kicked back into high gear when the fight went to the Senate recently.
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes (D) Norton were speakers at a recent hearing on D.C. statehood. Hosted by the committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the committee listened to testimonies for and against D.C. becoming the 51st state.
“There is no legal or constitutional barrier to DC Statehood; the prevailing constitutional issue is the civil rights violation of 700,000 DC residents who fulfill all obligations of U.S. citizenship but are denied any representation in this body,” said Mayor Bowser in her arguments made before the Committee.
GOP Senators are in disagreement. “Obviously the founders designed the capital region to never be a state,” said Sen. James Lankford, (R-OK). But under statehood, the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall would remain as federal territory.
However, some Democrat senators offered open support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted:
Washington, DC has more residents than Wyoming or Vermont. Its majority Black and Brown residents pay more per-capita in federal taxes than anywhere else in the US. It’s ridiculous that they still don’t have full representation in Congress. It’s long past time for #DCStatehood.
Not only does D.C. has more residents in several states, DC’s gross domestic product is larger than 17 states. Including, residents pay more federal taxes per capita than any state. As well, they pay more federal taxes than 21 states.
The hearing took place near the country’s Independence Day, July 4th celebration, which invoked calls of citizenship. “D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot consent to the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live,” Del. Norton said in her statement to the Senate Committee.
Del. Norton (D) proposed the H.R. 51 bill in the House in June 2020. The Democrat-majority congress passed it with a 232-180 vote largely along party lines. However, the GOP-majority Senate shut the bill down from moving forward. This year, the bill was voted and passed again in the House in April.
Subsequent to the hearing, protestors took to the streets outside of the Capital to support the efforts. A Freedom Ride rally dominated the day’s activities with marches and meetings on D.C.’s mall calling for D.C. Statehood as well as the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. “We demand they vote for these bills! We must end voter suppression,” posted Barbara Arnwine, founder and president of the Transformative Justice Coalition, after her rally speech.
If passed, D.C. would be named, Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, in honor of civil rights stalwart, Frederick Douglass. However, the 60-vote filibuster by Republican opposition will likely block a vote.
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