WASHINGTON, D.C. — Democrats in the Senate said Wednesday that they're reintroducing a bill that would make Washington, D.C. the nation’s 51st state.
However, even though Democrats now control the Senate, the chances of the legislation passing are not good.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. is leading the group of senators and working with House Democrats to grant D.C. statehood.
The bill, which Caper first introduced in 2013, would give D.C. full representation in Congress and also ensure its elected leaders have full authority over local affairs, including safety and security measures.
“Our nation’s capital is home to more than 700,000 Americans who, despite our nation’s founding mantra — ‘no taxation without representation’ — pay their share of taxes without full voting representation in either chamber of Congress,” said Carper in a statement. “In fact, despite paying more in federal taxes per capita than citizens of any of the 50 states, D.C. residents have no say in how those taxes are actually spent.”
Right now, the district only has one representative in the House, Rep. Eleanor Norton, who introduced a companion bill that passed by a vote of 232-180 last year. Statehood would allow D.C. to elect two U.S. senators, which would likely fall to the Democrats.
“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 continued. “It is therefore incumbent upon all of us who enjoy the right and the privilege of full voting rights and representation to take up the cause of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia.”
The legislation, titled, The Washington, D.C. Admission Act, would also designate the areas surrounding the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the National Mall as the seat of the federal government. That area would inherit the name “the Capitol” and remain under control of Congress.
D.C. residents have also voted overwhelmingly to petition the federal government grant them statehood. A November 2016 referendum approved a name, constitution, and boundaries for what would become the new state called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth (D.C.).
President Joe Biden has voiced his support for D.C. statehood, but the chances of the bill passing in the Senate are slim. Democrats would need to overcome the filibuster, meaning they’d need 60 votes. Right now, both parties have 50 senators, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting tiebreaking votes.