After it failed in Congress a year ago, a bill that would make Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia), the 51st state is again expected to pass in the House on Thursday.
The bill, which supporters say is partly a civil rights issue, will receive a full floor vote in the House on Thursday and is expected to pass easily before being sent to the Senate. The House oversight committee approved statehood for D.C. earlier this month.
A similar bill a year ago was also passed in the House but was never taken up in the Republican-held Senate. This year, Democrats hold a slim majority in the upper chamber but would need some GOP support to get the proposal passed and sent to President Joe Biden, who has indicated he would sign it.
Supporters of D.C. statehood say the district has 700,000 residents – more than both Wyoming and Vermont – yet they are not represented with voting members in Congress. As much of the district’s population is comprised of people of color, they also say it’s time to give them adequate representation on Capitol Hill.
Opponents argue that the bill is power grab since the district is largely Democratic. “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,” Biden’s budget office said Tuesday. “The administration calls for the Congress to provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood for the people of Washington, D.C.”
A letter from 22 Republican state attorneys general to Biden earlier this month said the U.S. Constitution gives Congress authority over Washington, D.C., and that the only way to grant it statehood would be to pass a constitutional amendment. SOVEREIGNPH