The United States House of Representatives approved a bill on April 22 that would grant statehood to Washington, D.C.
The House voted 216 to 208 on the H.R.51 – Washington, D.C. Admission Act that would create the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Advocates of the bill view the statehood as a civil rights issue.
While residents of Washington, D.C. are required to pay taxes and can vote for presidential candidates, they do not have voting representation in Congress. Eleanor Holmes Norton represents Washington, D.C. in Congress as a non-voting delegate.
The statehood bill would then give Washington, D.C. a voting representative in the House, as well as two senators, similar to every other state.
“With the passage of the bill today, the residents of the nation’s capital are closer than ever to achieving voting representation in Congress and full local self-government, and the United States is one step closer to deserving the term democracy,” Holmes stated on Twitter.
If given statehood, Washington, D.C. would be the first state with a plurality Black population, as its population of over 700,000 residents, which is larger than the population of Vermont or Wyoming, is 46% Black and majority non-white.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that he would bring the bill to the Senate for a vote, where it faces an uphill battle because Republicans view the bill as a Democratic power grab.
“D.C. Statehood is something I strongly believe in. We are going to do everything we can to pass it,” Schumer said at a news conference.
“This is about democracy. It’s about self-government. It’s about voting rights,” Schumer said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Representative James Comer described the bill as “unconstitutional, impractical, and a blatant power grab.”