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House majority leader endorses DC statehood

House majority leader endorses DC statehood
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse to vote Thursday on waiver for Biden's Defense chief pick Boebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report GOP divided over Liz Cheney's future 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 NortonThis week: Democrats barrel toward Trump impeachment after Capitol attack Boston removes statue of slave kneeling before Lincoln Pelosi, McConnell receive COVID-19 vaccine 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 GillibrandOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: 12 removed from National Guard inauguration security | Austin backs lifting transgender ban Biden Pentagon pick supports lifting transgender military ban Democrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) also recently came out in support of statehood.