House majority leader endorses DC statehood

House majority leader endorses DC statehood
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Liberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entry Lawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar MORE (D-Md.) on Thursday endorsed statehood for Washington, D.C.

"More than 700,000 Americans remain unable to cast votes for an equal voice in Congress," Hoyer wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post.

"Defending the new Constitution, James Madison assured his fellow Americans that residents of this new capital district would happily live there 'as they will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them.' For 228 years, our government has denied them that voice."

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"I have been hesitant in past years to call for statehood for the District because I believed that we could achieve voting rights for its residents without having to take the politically difficult steps statehood would entail," Hoyer explained.

"I now believe the only path to ensuring its representation is through statehood. Legislation granting representation in the House could be revoked in the future; statehood would bring D.C. residents a permanent voice in our elected institutions."

D.C. statehood has routinely been opposed by Republicans, largely because of the high percentage of registered Democrats in the city.

Hoyer announced Thursday that he will co-sponsor a bill from Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonHouse Democrat offers bill to let students with pot conviction retain federal aid Majority of Americans opposes DC statehood: poll DC statehood hearing rescheduled to make room for Mueller testimony MORE (D-D.C.) to make the nation's capital the 51st state.

Norton has introduced statehood bills several times, though this year's legislation has gained more support than those in years past.

Her measure had 151 co-sponsors when put forward in January, a record high for the legislation.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Sanders unveils plan to double union membership in first term The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden expands lead in new national poll MORE (D-N.Y.) also recently came out in support of statehood.