The U.S. House of Representatives passed statehood legislation on Thursday that would make Washington, DC, the country’s 51st state. It would also grant the area’s over 700,000 residents representation in Congress.
The bill passed in the House on a strictly party-line vote, 216 to 208. All Republicans rejected the said bill, which is called H.R. 51. President Joe Biden has previously expressed his support for the bill. However, whether it passes the 50-50 split Senate remains unclear.
The debate regarding the said bill became particularly heated on Thursday. Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones of new York accused some Republican lawmakers of going against Washington, DC’s statehood because the area was not “White” enough for self-rule.
However, 46% African-American and 46% White make up DC’s population, as per the 2019 Census estimates.
Jones then noted a ridiculous, alleged statement of one of the house GOP representatives that the district can’t become a state due to the absence of a landfill. Jones called this and the other comments made by his Republican colleagues, “racist trash.”
Republican lawmakers immediately asked for the Democratic Representative’s statements to be struck. The freshman lawmaker then agreed to withdraw what he said.
DC Statehood to Give District’s Residents Congress Representation
Before this, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the passing of the DC statehood bill. She said it’s a “momentous day for American democracy. Several Democrat argued that becoming a state is a matter of civil rights. They also said it’s a needed step to correct the historic injustice of enforcing taxes on DC residents while they don’t have representation in Congress.
Although, GOP lawmakers argued that since Washington, DC was established through a constitutional amendment, its statehood needs to be done in the same way. They also said the move seems to be a power grab done by the Democrats so that they can expand the Senate Majority by adding two more liberal senators.
Last June, the House already approved a DC statehood legislation that died due to the GOP-controlled Senate. However, the chances of this becoming law have become better. Now, there are Democrats in charge in both the Senate and the White House. Nevertheless, the Senate serves as the bills biggest challenge as a legislative filibuster requires 60 votes to push forward with the bill.