Story at a glance

  • H.R.51 moved through the U.S. House of Representatives with most Democrats voting for D.C. to become a state.
  • The residential and commercial region would be renamed the Douglass Commonwealth.
  • Monuments and Federal Buildings would still be located in the District of Columbia.

On Thursday, the U.S House of Representatives passed H.R.51 — a bill that would make the District of Columbia the 51st state.

It was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which recommended that the bill pass following an amendment. 

Under the bill’s provisions, the District, which would be renamed to Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, would be on equal legal footing with the other 50 states.

 

 

This would mean electing two Senators and one Representative to serve on behalf of D.C. in Congress. 

The bill was introduced by D.C.’s current Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D). A region with primarily Democrat voters, the creation of new Congressional seats is important for the party.


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The Washington Post further notes that Democrats largely carried the vote 216-208, saying the bill restores equal citizenship rights to D.C. residents. 

“We have a moment before us that has never existed for the statehood movement,” Josh Burch, co-founder of Neighbors United for DC Statehood said. “We can pat ourselves on the back and celebrate the House vote, and we should. But really that needs to be short-lived, because we have a lot of work to make this a reality in the next year and a half.”

H.R.51 notes that some parts of D.C. would remain federal property if it becomes a state, including national monuments and federal buildings. Those will remain in the federal District of Columbia. Outside of that, residential and commercial areas will be listed under the Douglass Commonwealth. 

“Our nation was built on the promise that all of us are created equal & deserve an equal say in our democracy,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) wrote on Twitter. “For far too long, DC residents have been denied adequate representation & a vote in Congress.”


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Published on Apr 22, 2021