News and Commentary

House Democrats Vote To Make Washington, D.C., The 51st State
WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 3, 2020: A view of the United States Capitol. Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

Democrats in the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of admitting the majority of Washington, D.C., as the Union’s 51st state, and partially renaming the area after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

“The United States is the only democratic country that denies both voting rights in the national legislature and local autonomy to the residents of the nation’s capital,” Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC’s non-voting member of the House, wrote in prepared remarks ahead of the vote.

“Congress has two choices. It can continue to exercise undemocratic, autocratic authority over the 705,000 American citizens who reside in our nation’s capital, treating them, in the words of Frederick Douglass, as ‘aliens, not citizens, but subjects.’ Or Congress can live up to this nation’s promise and ideals,” she said.

Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) was the only Democrat to note vote in favor of Norton’s legislation.

Under Norton’s legislation, two square miles of Washington, D.C., including the White House, Capitol Building, Supreme Court, and several other adjacent federal buildings, would not join the proposed state. The new area, which would be home to about 700,000 residents, would be named Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.

Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), the Republican congressman from Maryland, has called the DC-statehood idea “pure political bull,” on account that Washington, D.C., could simply go to the government of Maryland and ask them to join, reports The Washington Post.

During an MSNBC appearance on Friday, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser told host Andrea Mitchell that the move toward statehood was part of an “historic march,” and that “becoming the 51st state is the only way the 700,000 tax-paying Americans are fully represented and become full Americans.”

“Our population is already greater than that of two states, we’re bigger than Wyoming and Vermont, and unlike the territories, which we’ve been compared to recently, we pay all of the federal taxes that every American pays in the fifty states,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring the legislation to a vote in the upper chamber, according to the Post. President Donald Trump told the New York Post last month that Washington, D.C., will never become a state: “Why? So we can have two more Democratic – Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has indicated that he is fully on-board with making a new state out of the land in the nation’s capital: “D.C. should be a state. Pass it on.”

Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has accused the House of ignoring more important priorities, such as protecting small businesses from lawsuits, getting Americans back to work, or holding China accountable.

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