Congress mulls over push to make DC the 51st state

Southeast

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — A group of House lawmakers met Monday to consider legislation that would make Washington, D.C., America’s 51st state.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on the Washington, D.C. Admission Act Monday with D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton both appearing.

The bill, which was reintroduced in January, would establish congressional boundaries for the state and grant D.C. residents full congressional representation.

Currently, 712,000 residents of the federal district known as the District of Columbia are denied political representation, according to Congress. D.C. pays more in federal taxes than 21 states and more per capita than any state, the House committee said.

While D.C. has representation in the U.S. House of Representatives with Holmes Norton, she cannot vote. 

Bowser said at Monday’s hearing, “The people of Washington DC have voted to endorse statehood. We have approved a constitution. We have approved our state boundaries.”

The legislation would also reduce the size of the federal district, designating the areas surrounding the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the National Mall as the seat of the federal government. The area would remain under the control of Congress, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, NewsNation affiliates WAVY and WDVM reported.

Bowser has long advocated for statehood. Earlier this year, Bowser said representatives’ support of the bill is “a promising sign that our country is finally ready to right this historic wrong.”

Sen. Tom Carper, who’s leading the effort, has said that D.C.’s statehood 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,” the Democratic senator from Delaware said.

Republicans who oppose the move say it is just a “power grab” for Democrats.

“It demostrates a desire for more political dominance by Democrats because they realize that if D.C. were able to send two senators, they’d likely be Democrats,” Said Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn.

The bill will have to pass in the House, the Senate, and be signed by the president.

NewsNation affiliates WAVY and WDVM contributed to this report.

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