The House passed legislation Thursday to make Washington D.C. the nation’s 51st state, a Democrat “power grab” measure that ultimately faces little chance of gaining the 60 votes necessary to send it to President Biden’s desk in the evenly divided Senate.
Dubbed H.R, 51 — Washington, D.C. Admission Act, the bill passed strictly along party lines in a vote of 216-208. No Republicans voted in favor of the statehood bill. The legislation would take the nation’s capital and make it to a new state, creating America’s 51st State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named after Frederick Douglass. It would give D.C. two U.S. senators and one permanent House representative, replacing the delegates currently representing the region. The bill would also exclude the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and the National Mall from D.C. statehood and would remain under federal control and would be known as the nation’s capital
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) speaking at a press conference Wednesday portrayed D.C. statehood as a matter of civil rights.
“By voting for DC statehood, the House of Representatives reaffirms this truth that all deserve a voice in our democracy,” Pelosi said, donning a “D.C. 51” face mask. “Our founders built our democracy on a simple promise that every American should have a voice in our government: from City Hall to the halls of Congress. Washingtonians pay taxes, fight in our wars, contribute to the economic life of our country. But for centuries, they have been denied their right to representation.”
“The license plate says ‘taxation without representation.’ It is imperative that we correct this injustice, which is also a matter of civil rights and security, as the Summer protests and the January 6 insurrection made clear, DC must be empowered to protect its people.”
Democrats, Washington Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser, and advocates of the legislation have all have argued for weeks that making D.C. the 51st state is a civil rights issue, arguing the 10-mile city has the largest Black population out of the 700,000 residing in the nation’s capital and currently lack representation in Congress.
The latest Census Bureau data reports that 46% of the district’s population is African American, 11% is Hispanic or Latino and 4% is Asian. According to 2019 IRS data, residences in the nation’s capital, many of who work for the federal government are paying more in federal taxes than 21 states and more per capita than of any state.
Republicans, on the other hand, argued against making the federal swamp district a state, noting it is a political “scheme” from Democrats hinged on “consolidating power and enacting radical policies.” According to the Brookings Institute, since 2000, the Democratic presidential nominee would overwhelmingly capture over 90% of the vote from Washington, D.C. Under the bill, the state would be represented by two senators, just like the rest of the 50 states, with Republicans arguing those new senators would be Democrats.
Republicans have also pointed to the Constitution, citing since the Founding Fathers specifically set D.C. as the land “intended to be a federal district outside the jurisdiction of any one state,” while also arguing limitations for the nation capital are enshrined in Article I of the Constitution, therefor its status can only be changed through a constitutional amendment, and not by Congress.
Twenty-two Republican Attorneys General threatened legal action last week if the ever possibility that Congress is able to pass the statehood bill in the Senate with President Biden signing it into law, calling the Democrats attempts “antithetical to our representative democratic republic” that would “constitute an unprecedented aggrandizement of an elite ruling class with unparalleled power and Federal access compared to the remaining fifty states of the Union.”
The White House on Tuesday backed the Democrat bill, saying the legislation would provide the Washington residents with “long-overdue full representation in Congress.”
“Establishing the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement Tuesday. “Washington, D.C. has a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy.”
“The Administration looks forward to working with Congress as H.R. 51 proceeds through the legislative process to ensure that it comports with Congress’s constitutional responsibilities and its constitutional authority to admit new states to the Union by legislation,” OMB added.
It’s the second year in a row that the Democratic-controlled House attempted to make statehood measure a reality. Democrats last year were fuming over former President Donald Trump had the overriding power over Bowser’s authority in calling for the national guard and other federal officers in clearing the violent protestors from Lafayette Square outside the White House. The vote the first time was 232 to 180, with every Republican and just one Democrat voting against the legislation.