House approves measure to make Washington DC a state

The house approved a measure make Washington, DC the fifty-first state on Friday, marking the first time that a DC statehood proposal has been passed in either house of Congress. The legislation went from 232 to 180, and only one Democrat joined Republicans to vote against.

The legislation, titled HR 51, would create the Washington State, Douglass Commonwealth, named after Frederick Douglass. The district has a population of more than 700,000 people, larger than the populations of Wyoming and Vermont. DC residents have no voting representation in Congress. Eleanor Holmes Norton represents DC in Congress as a non-voting delegate.

“The United States is the only democratic country that denies both voting rights in the national legislature and local autonomy to residents of the nation’s capital,” Norton said in a speech on the floor of the House before the vote. Norton also spoke about the importance of voting in personal terms.

“My great-grandfather Richard Holmes, who escaped as a slave to a Virginia plantation, came to DC, a path to freedom but not equal citizenship. For three generations, my family was denied rights that other Americans take for granted. . “Norton said.

However, Republicans have voiced their opposition to the state of Washington, DC, largely because the city is heavily Democratic.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton argued in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday that Wyoming may be smaller, but it is a “well-balanced workers’ state.”

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Democrat, responded in a tweet that DC residents should not be deprived of representation “just because Tom Cotton doesn’t think they have the right jobs.”

“Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe if she were given the powers of a governor? Would you trust Marion Barry?” Cotton said, referring to the current mayor and the late former mayor, both black.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not bring the legislation to the Senate floor. Activists have called for eliminating the filibuster in the Senate to boost DC statehood, as that would remove the 60-vote threshold and allow the Senate to pass the measure with just 51 votes.

However, President Trump has also criticized the idea of ​​DC statehood, and the White House has threatened to veto the legislation.

“DC will never be a state,” Trump told the New York Post in May. “You mean the District of Columbia, one state? Why? So can we have two more Democratic senators and five more congressmen? No thanks. That will never happen.”

Democrats argue that Republicans would be more willing to consider making DC a state if it were a mostly Republican city with a mostly white population.

The DC statehood vote was the first House vote on the issue since 1993.

Kimberly Brown contributed to this report.