In a 216-208 party-line vote on Thursday, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state in the nation. The bill will now be sent to the US Senate.
“It’s the second time the House has approved such legislation in two years, but the statehood bill, long a goal for the nation’s capital, faces an uphill climb in a Senate evenly divided between the two parties,” noted The Hill, adding that “Winning a vote in the Senate would likely require ending the filibuster that requires most legislation to clear a 60-vote hurdle. Even then, not all 50 Democrats in the Senate back making D.C. a state.”
When CNN asked Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia whether he would support statehood for Washington, D.C., he responded, “I got so many things on my plate that I haven’t even gotten to that yet.”
The House passed H.R. 51, titled, “Washington, D.C. Admission Act,” which calls “To provide for the admission of the State of Washington, D.C. into the Union.”
Washington, D.C., has three electoral votes, but its House delegate cannot vote on legislation. This position is currently held by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who introduced the bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrated the bill on Wednesday, saying, “With H.R 51, Congress is taking a significant step to enfranchise the people of DC and empower them to participate fully in our democracy.”
“Again, we’re excited that we will pass it. We will celebrate, and we hope that momentum will help it pass in the Senate so that the President can sign it into law,” Pelosi added.
H.R. 51 was passed last year by House Democrats but did not advance in the Republican-controlled Senate at the time.
“Let’s be very clear what HR 51 is all about: It’s all about creating two new Democrat US Senate seats,” GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky said during a committee markup of the bill last week, according to CNN.
“This bill is part of the progressive pathway that President Biden, Leader Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi have to reshape America into that socialist utopia that the Squad talk about,” he added.
Every member of “the squad” is a sponsor on the bill, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley among the long list of Democratic Representatives introducing the bill.
The bill looks to have the support of the Biden administration. In an official endorsement titled, “Statement of Administration Policy” on H.R. 51, the White House stated:
The Administration strongly supports H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress. This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded. H.R. 51 rights this wrong by making Washington, D.C. a state and providing its residents with long overdue full representation in Congress, while maintaining a Federal District that will continue to serve as our Nation’s seat of government.
Establishing the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just. Washington, D.C. has a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as H.R. 51 proceeds through the legislative process to ensure that it comports with Congress’ constitutional responsibilities and its constitutional authority to admit new states to the Union by legislation. The Administration calls for the Congress to provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood for the people of Washington, D.C.
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