“I rise to introduce the New Columbia Admissions Act that will create a 51st State from the populated portions of Washington, D.C., giving these more than 600,000 disenfranchised Americans the voice they deserve in our national government,” Lieberman said Wednesday. “The United States is the only democracy in the world that denies voting representation to the people who live in its capital city. It is long past time to end this unjust and embarrassing distinction.”
If New Columbia were created, it would receive two voting senators and a voting member in the House. Currently, D.C. only has a non-voting member of the House — Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). The area is highly Democratic, which is why this initiative has typically been lead by Democrats.
Lieberman said, “it would have been unimaginable” to the founding fathers to have such a heavily populated area disenfranchised in Congress.
“Now we are a nation of more than 300 million and Washington, D.C., is a thriving community of 618,000 people,” Lieberman said. “That's more people than Wyoming has and about the same as Vermont and North Dakota have, which, of course, have full representation in Congress.”
There has long been a campaign in D.C. to gain statehood since residents pay taxes and yet don’t have the same federal representation as states. The D.C. motto is “taxation without representation.”
“It is long past time to give these American citizens who have chosen Washington as their home full participation in our democracy,” Lieberman said. “People who live in D.C. are, of course, as American as people who live throughout our country — teachers, firefighters, doctors, janitors, parents, children, veterans, retirees. Why do their contributions to our democracy — financial and otherwise — merit rights and representation any less than those of their fellow citizens in the 50 states?"
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are co-sponsoring the bill.