House approves Washington, DC state by historic vote

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four decades after launching its campaign for the US state, Washington, DC, it was on the verge of taking a step toward becoming the 51st state, as the House of Representatives approved its admission on Friday.

The bill passed in the Democrats-controlled House by a 232-180 vote, with no Republicans behind it.

The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to consider the legislation, and Republican President Donald Trump has publicly opposed the measure, noting that statehood would result in electing more Democrats for Congress.

In fact, Washington City voters have chosen only Democratic mayors. Creating a state outside of Washington would likely make it harder for Republicans to win majorities in the Senate.

On the House floor before the vote, Republican lawmakers argued that turning districts into a state was a political ploy by Democrats and would require an amendment to the United States Constitution. Some also said that Washington was not equipped to be a state and should be absorbed back into Maryland.

Proponents say Washington’s 700,000 residents, more than Vermont and Wyoming, have no say in the federal government, despite paying federal taxes.

That state is protesting with a slogan on Washington’s car license plates that shouts, “Taxation without representation.”

Currently, legislation passed by the district’s local government is subject to review by Congress.

“Congress has two options: it can continue to exercise autocratic and undemocratic authority over the 705,000 American citizens residing in our nation’s capital … or Congress can deliver on its nation’s promises and ideals,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton , the congresswoman from Washington. Norton cannot vote on the legislation.

Local anger at the district state most recently erupted during the coronavirus pandemic. Washington received $ 500 million for its response to the pandemic, compared to the $ 1.2 billion the federal government awarded to each of the 50 states.

Amid national protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man who died after a police officer knelt against Floyd’s neck, Trump dispatched National Guard troops to the district, at the objection of the district mayor. , to quell protests against racism and police brutality.

The state would be called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, after George Washington, the first president of the United States, and Frederick Douglass, a former slave-turned-famous abolitionist.

It would include residents of the district, but not major federal buildings, the National Mall, monuments, and museums, which would be housed in a federal enclave.

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The last time the United States expanded was in 1959, when Congress approved admitting Alaska and Hawaii as states 49 and 50, respectively, after congressional votes and the support of the president.

The United States Constitution gives Congress the power to admit new states without specifying a process.

Nicknamed a “Chocolate City” by the funk gang Parliament, it has been registered as a black majority city since the 1960 census. Black Americans now represent 46% of the district’s population, the same percentage of Americans. white.

Report by Makini Brice; Editing by Richard Cowan, Tom Brown, and Jonathan Oatis

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