As we know DC residents deserve full self-rule and representation in Congress. The House, which is Democratic-controlled, approved legislation today (Thursday, April 22, 2021) that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state, but the bill now has to prepare for battle in the Senate where Republican opposition and hesitation is on high. Some seeing this move as a power grab by Democrats to gain two more senators. As we continue to bring this bill to light, the reality is that this has become a civil rights issue as well.
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After today’s vote of 216-208, this will be the second time the House has approved the bill, which is backed by the Biden administration. The first time statehood made it to the House floor, House Democrats voted 232-180 in favor of statehood. However, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hasn’t committed to bringing it up for a vote in the Senate, where current rules require 60 votes for passage and only 45 of the 50 Democrats are currently sponsoring the legislation.
“I believe strongly in D.C. statehood, and we will try to work a path to get it done, absolutely,” Mr. Schumer said Tuesday when asked if he intended to bring the legislation up for a vote. But he didn’t provide any time frame.
If/when everything passes in the Senate, Washington, D.C., would take the name State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, in honor of Frederick Douglass. D.C. would be the first new state admitted to the U.S. since Hawaii in 1959, and proponents have already designed American flags that fit 51 stars.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday that Washingtonians “pay taxes, fight in our wars, power our economy yet do not have a full voice in our democracy,”. Even as support within the Democratic Party has grown, a small group of Senate Democrats remains undecided on whether they would support the legislation. “I fundamentally, I think like most Americans, believe that everybody has a right to representation in Congress, and you know it’s not always equal. There are other ways that this can be done,” said Sen. Mark Kelly, who isn’t sponsoring the legislation. Asked if he would be open to other ideas, such as returning the city to Maryland, he said: “We’ll have to see what the details of any proposal ultimately look like.”
If all 50 Democrats decide to support the legislation, the current 60-vote system in the Senate would block it from passing. Statehood legislation was first brought up for a vote in the House in 1993 and failed. At the time, 105 Democrats opposed it. The bill passed the House last year but was never brought up in the then-GOP-controlled Senate.