Bill to Make Washington, D.C., a State Heads Toward House Vote

The Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee approved a bill to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state, sending it to a vote on the House floor as soon as next week.

But the legislation, which cleared the committee on a 25-19 party-line vote, stands little chance in the Senate in the face of broad opposition from Republicans.

“The United States is the only democratic country that denies both voting rights in the national legislature and local self-government to the people of its capital,” Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, said. “And that is wrong. It violates everything we stand for as Americans.”

The bill, H.R. 51, would shrink the size of the nation’s capital to include federal buildings and monuments, the National Mall, White House, Capitol Building and the Supreme Court Building. The rest of the District of Columbia would become the 51st state.

Although it has a population size greater than Wyoming or Vermont, the district currently has one non-voting representative in Congress, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. Holmes Norton has introduced the D.C. statehood bill every year in Congress since 1991.

The measure passed the House for the first time last year, but was not brought to the floor for a vote in the Senate, which then had a Republican majority. Although Democrats now narrowly control that chamber, Republicans are still able to block most legislation from advancing.

Many GOP lawmakers have rejected proposals to make D.C. a state, in part because the city votes overwhelmingly for Democrats.

“Let’s be very clear what H.R. 51 is about. It’s all about creating two new Democrat U.S. Senate seats,” Representative James Comer of Kentucky, the ranking Republican on the committee, said.

Republicans have suggested alternatives to making the District its own state -- such as returning parts of D.C. to Maryland.

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