Story at a glance

  • The statehood bill has received unprecedented support in the House.
  • A markup of the bill will be held next week.
  • The measure is unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-held Senate.

The House will vote on a measure to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state before the summer recess, the first time a statehood bill for the nation’s capital has been voted on since 1993. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told WUSA-9 in an interview following President Trump's State of the Union address Monday that he plans to bring HR-51 to a vote on the House floor before the chamber breaks for the summer.

“We’re the only capital in the free world that doesn't allow its citizens to have a voting member in the parliament, or in this case the congress,” Hoyer said

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) announced last week a committee markup and vote will be held for the bill next Tuesday. It’s expected to be voted through committee and make it onto the House floor.

Norton introduced the statehood bill last year in January, and it has received record support from co-sponsors, including support from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

But the measure is unlikely to go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate, as Republicans oppose the measure in large part because the District would presumably elect two Democratic senators.

“They plan to make the District of Columbia a state — that’d give them two new Democratic senators — Puerto Rico a state, that would give them two more new Democratic senators,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a Fox News interview in June.

“So this is full-bore socialism on the march in the House. And yeah, as long as I’m the majority leader of the Senate, none of that stuff is going anywhere.” 

During a hearing on the statehood proposal in the House Oversight and Reform Committee in September, Republicans said they believe making D.C. a state would require a constitutional amendment, a process that requires consent of two-thirds of both chambers of Congress and two-thirds of the current states. 

The District is home to more than 700,000 residents, making it more populous than Vermont or Wyoming. Proponents of statehood say D.C. residents pay federal taxes and serve in the armed forces, but are unable to have a say on where tax funds go or whether the country should go to war. 

If the bill were enacted, D.C.’s eight wards would become a state called Douglass Commonwealth, with two senators and one House member. The Capitol, the National Mall and other sites would remain under the federal government’s jurisdiction.

Published on Feb 06, 2020