House of Representatives Passes DC State Bill, Republican Party Calls Dem ‘Takeover’

The House of Representatives voted Friday to make Washington DC the 51st state, a move applauded by Washingtonians and Democrats as a recognition of full citizenship that had been long overdue, while Republicans criticized the effort as a seizure of power by the Democratic Party.

The vote was 232-180. The vote largely fell on party lines: Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat from Minnesota, one of the House’s most conservative Democrats, was the only Democrat to oppose the bill.


The bill is presumed dead on arrival in the Republican-led Senate and also opposes President Trump, who would likely wield his veto pen if the bill reached his desk.

Proponents of the legislation, mostly Democrats, said statehood is about granting DC residents the same citizenship and ending the injustice of paying taxes, serving in the military and contributing to the economic power of the United States. while depriving them of their rights.

“This bill allows our country to live up to its claim to be a democracy,” said Washington Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting Democratic member of the United States House. “We stand out as the only democracy, which denies democracy to residents of its own capital.”

Opponents, mostly Republicans, called the bill a power takeover for the firmly Democratic city, saying the nation’s founding fathers intended for the capital to be separated from the other states.

“It’s about power. Make no mistake about it, ″ said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. The bill “would fundamentally alter what DC is,” he added.

The measure, titled “HR 51”, would make the capital city a “community,” as would Virginia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The measure would change the name of Washington, DC to “Douglass Commonwealth,” after abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Each state has two statues on Capitol Hill. DC, since it’s not a state, it only gets one statue and that’s from Douglass.

DC residents currently pay taxes but are not represented to vote on Capitol Hill. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution required the creation of a federal district to be the seat of government, and DC was originally divided into two states, Maryland and Virginia, so that no state would have undue influence by hosting the capital.

Representative Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, said that DC’s lack of full representation is a racial injustice since the district has such a large African-American population.

“Washington DC is home to more Americans than two states, and more than 46% of its 700,000 residents are black,” Waters said. “Make no mistake, race underlies all arguments against DC’s statehood, and denying its citizens equal participation and representation is a racial, democratic, and economic injustice that we cannot tolerate.”

Opponents of the bill questioned whether DC was even capable of self-government. “DC is unprepared – financially and otherwise,” said Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga.

Republicans said that if DC residents really want voting rights, they should begin the retrocession process to become part of neighboring Maryland, rather than the solidly blue district winning two new seats in the United States Senate.

“This is not Congress land,” said Rep. Andy Harris, R-Maryland. “This is Maryland land. Maryland gave it to the United States for the sole purpose of the permanent federal enclave. The nerve of hundreds of my colleagues across the aisle thinking it is their land. It is Maryland land. And if you want to vote rights. It’s simple. Do exactly what happened in 1847 and return the land to Maryland. “

“This is a pure political ploy,” added Harris.

Norton, who has championed DC status, replied: “It is important to note that Maryland permanently ceded the land that is now part of the District of Columbia. What it has permanently ceded cannot be recovered.”

Proponents of statehood compared DC’s plight for self-government to the revolt of colonial America against the British that sparked the American Revolution.

“At the end of the day, this is taxation without representation,” said representative Kweisi Mfume, D-Md.

The plates in DC are stamped with the complaint: “Tax without representation”.

Friday’s victory marks the second time the House has voted on such a measure in the nearly 230 years since the district was established. A 1993 bill to grant DC status and rename it “New Columbia” failed 277-153.

Lawmakers donned masks with a “51” printed on them, along with a red outline of Washington, DC, when the debate began Friday morning.


The city has very limited representation, including recognition at the Electoral College, a non-voting delegate, and a shadow senator who is not formally recognized by the Senate. The current incumbent, Paul Strauss, told Fox News that DC residents pay more federal taxes than any other non-voting territory and do not receive services commensurate with their population, which is larger than those in Wyoming and Vermont.

“We are essentially a donor state,” he said.

Strauss, a Democrat, specifically said that when it came to funding the coronavirus, Congress treated DC as a territory rather than a state, and Strauss said “we didn’t get the resources we needed.”

HR 51 would have DC Mayor, currently Muriel Bowser, Governor, and City Council serve as the legislature. The bill would give him two senators and a member of the House, and would eliminate the role of Congress in DC affairs.

“We know that everyone across the United States now knows and recognizes the plight of Washington, DC,” Bowser said Thursday. “Not only do we not have voting senators and our congresswoman has no right to vote, but the whims of a federal government can invade even our limited autonomy.”

The legislation would also create a capital city district, a special political subdivision around the White House, government buildings, the National Mall, and the United States Capitol. That would be all that was left of the “District of Columbia.”


Republicans have made it clear that they are not motivated to support such a plan, as it would almost certainly guarantee an additional member of the Democratic House and, more significantly, two Democratic senators.


In a recent interview with the New York Post, Trump claimed that Democrats support DC’s statehood because the district is largely Democratic.

“They want to do that, so they pick up two automatic Democrats, you know it’s 100 percent Democratic, basically, so why would Republicans ever do that?” Trump said. “That will never happen unless we have some very, very stupid Republicans that I don’t think you do.

The last time the United States admitted two states to the union was in 1959 and that was done as a compromise, whereby Hawaii was admitted as the “republican” state and Alaska was admitted as a “democratic” state, although the policy I have turned from both states since then.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Adam Shaw, Ronn Blitzer and Associated Press contributed to the report.