House and Senate Democrats submitted legislation Wednesday to make Washington DC the 51st state of the United States. Delaware Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia, reintroduced the bill seeking statehood. Meanwhile, Delaware Senator Tom Carper filed the Senate measure. In addition, Norton said the measure attracted more than 200 co-sponsors in the House.
The Time is Right
“There’s never been a time when statehood for the District was more likely,” Norton said in a statement. A similar bill passed the House last year but failed to make it past the Senate. This year, the Senate version is also getting co-sponsors, Norton feels optimistic about the bill’s chances. “We’re ready to achieve voting representation and full local self-government for the 712,000+ residents of the District of Columbia,” Norton noted.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) promised to help make Washington DC The 51st state through a floor vote. With the Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress, she hopes to get the needed votes to pass the legislation. “This is the time we can finally correct this historic injustice and give D.C. residents the same rights as other taxpaying Americans,” she said.
Republicans To Oppose the Bill
GOP lawmakers fear District of Columbia statehood as its congressional representation would go to Democrats. At present, most DC residents register as Democrats. In addition, DC is home to a thriving Black community that comprises 46% of the population. If statehood passes, Washington DC would generate two new Senators, which would most likely be Democrats. Consequently, this tilts the balance of the Senate further into Democrat territory.
Carper pleaded that the call for statehood is not a party issue. “It’s an American issue because the lack of fair representation given to the residents of D.C. is inconsistent with the values on which this country was founded. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us who enjoy the right and the privilege of full voting rights and representation to take up the cause of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia,” he said.
The Statehood bill also gained support from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Generations of Washingtonians have been denied the right to participate in our democracy, to have their voices and votes heard in Congress, to help shape the future of our nation, and to have a say on Supreme Court justices,” she tweeted Wednesday.
While the passage in the House will most likely happen given the Democratic majority, clearing the Senate is another matter. Democrats from the Senate can win an outright tie, as Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaker. However, Republicans can launch a filibuster to delay the proceedings. The only remedy to defeat the filibuster is to get 10 Republican senators to go with the 50 Democratic votes and call for cloture. Also, a simple majority vote can remove the filibuster. This opens the way to a straight voting process to determine DC statehood.
While calls to end the filibuster are getting stronger, at least two Democrat senators have said they will oppose measures to end the practice of filibustering. Democrat Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) said they will oppose calls to end the filibuster. “Senator Manchin’s position on the filibuster has not changed. He will not support eliminating the filibuster,” Manchin’s spokesperson said. Thus, plans for statehood, like Trump’s impeachment, will likely be dead on arrival at the Senate as usual.
Watch CBS Baltimore’s news video reporting on DC Statehood Bill Introduced By Senate Democrats led by Senator Tom Carper:
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