WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that, if made into law, would admit Washington, D.C. as the 51st state in the U.S.. However, the legislation – which passed along party lines on a vote of 216 to 208 – is likely not to gain any traction in the more evenly-divided Senate.
Washington, D.C. is populated by over 700,000 people – more than the population of some states, such as Vermont or Wyoming – but has no voting representation in the House or the Senate. In addition, D.C. pays more federal taxes than 21 out of the 50 states and more per capita than any state, as per the IRS.
If the bill is approved, it would transform Washington D.C. into the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named after Frederick Douglass, the famous social reformer, abolitionist, and writer. The newly-created state would have two U.S. Senators and a representative in the House.
The White House, U.S. Capitol and National Mall, however, would still remain under federal control. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents D.C. in Congress as a non-voting delegate, said that today’s vote is a positive step forward for D.C.
“Today’s victory was historic, both for D.C. residents and for the cause of D.C. statehood,” she said.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it will almost certainly be dead on arrival. With two Democrats on the record as not supporting the elimination of the filibuster – which would allow legislation to pass with a simple majority instead of the 60-vote threshold it requires now – the bill has little chance of passing in the more evenly-divided Senate, as Republicans have expressed strong opposition to D.C. statehood as of late.
The reasoning for Republicans not endorsing D.C. statehood is simple – the district, which is strongly Democratic – nearly 92 percent of D.C. residents voted President Biden in the 2020 election – most likely means that the state’s representatives in the Senate and House would be Democratic as well, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“They want to pack the Supreme Court with liberals intent on eroding our constitutional rights,” he said in his 2020 RNC Speech. “And they want to codify all this by making the swamp itself, Washington D.C., America’s 51st state. With two more liberal senators, we cannot undo the damage they’ve done.”