UPDATED 11:31 AM PT — Friday, May 31, 2019
The push for Washington, D.C. to achieve statehood is not new, but it’s gained new traction thanks to a bill in the House of Representatives. The bill is reportedly slated to have a hearing on July 24th before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
The bill was proposed by Democrat delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton, and seeks to have the city “admitted to the union on equal footing with the other states.” This would call for district-wide elections of two new senators and one new congressional representative. All the district territory would be included in the state with the exemption of specific federal buildings and monuments, such as the white house.
Residents in the city have complained about a lack of representation in the United States. They noted that while the district does get three electoral votes in national elections, it has no voting representation in the House or the Senate.
“We come full of optimism because of the progress we have made in only five-months in the new 116th Congress,” stated Holmes-Norton. “We come determined to become the 51st state of the United States of America.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer threw his support behind the bill in an a Washington Post op-ed, saying more than 700,000 Americans remain unable to cast votes for an equal voice in Congress. He also said he’s been hesitant to call for statehood in the district in the past, but now says it’s the only path to ensuring permanent representation. Hoyer noted he would be co-sponsoring the bill with Holmes-Norton.
Nearly 80-percent of voters in Washington, D.C. passed a measure in 2016 in favor of petitioning Congress to admit the district as the state of New Columbia.
Analysts say the bill does have the potential to pass through the House, but is not likely to receive support in the Senate. They explained that Republicans have long pushed back against the call for statehood due to the heavy Democrat population in the city.