Senate Democrats reintroduce DC statehood bill
A group of Senate Democrats led by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) reintroduced legislation to give Washington, D.C., statehood on Wednesday, marking the first major effort to push toward statehood since the Capitol riot earlier this month.
The bill, which was first introduced in 2013, would give citizens of the District full authority over local issues, as well as grant them full representation in Congress.
“This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue; it’s an American issue because the lack of fair representation for D.C. residents is clearly inconsistent with the values on which this country was founded,” Carper said in a statement.
Washington, D.C., is home to roughly 700,000 residents, a population that is larger than both Wyoming and Vermont. However, Republicans argue the effort is a push to expand Democratic interests on Capitol Hill.
Critics also argue that the push goes against the 23rd Amendment, which gives D.C. residents the right to vote in presidential elections, but gives them as much say as the “least populous State.”
In order for Washington, D.C., to become a state, Democrats would need the support of a minimum of 10 Republicans. However, if the Senate ends the filibuster, statehood could be accomplished with 50 votes in favor plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Harris.
President Biden has long signaled his support for statehood.
The legislation comes as calls for the District of Columbia to become the 51st state have grown louder in the wake of the riot at the Capitol building this month. Despite the building being located in the heart of D.C., the city had no power to activate the National Guard as other states, like Virginia, have been able to do.
However, the calls for statehood began before the riot as Democrats prepared to take the majority in the Senate. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) called for a vote on statehood roughly an hour before the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Just like the millions of Americans who voted nationwide and the thousands who organized and voted in Georgia, we are ready to build a more perfect union — one in which all voices are heard, one in which we work together to uplift families in cities, and suburbs, and small towns, and one in which the 712,000 residents of Washington, D.C. have full access to our nation’s democracy,” Bowser said.
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