House passes D.C. statehood bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – The House of Representatives has passed a bill to admit Washington, D.C. as a state.

The bill is titled House Resolution 51, a nod to the hopes of supporters that the District of Columbia will become the 51st state.

The 216-208 vote was strictly along party lines with Republicans fiercely opposing the idea.

Supporters say Washington, D.C. residents have the obligations of citizenship such as paying federal taxes and military service in wartime but without federal representation and they point out that Washington’s population exceeds that of two states, Wyoming and Vermont.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “Self-government, voting rights, these are not democratic rights. These are not Republican rights. They are American rights. They are issues of fairness and democracy. It’s not about right and left. It’s about right and wrong. D.C. Statehood is an idea whose time has come.”

Republicans frame the idea as a power grab with the heavily Democratic-leaning city likely to give progressives more power in Congress.

“Today they’re going to try to make D.C. a state,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said. “The Constitution created the District of Columbia for a purpose, that the place we govern ourselves nationally, one state won’t have an advantage over the other. If you’re worried about people in the District of Columbia being disenfranchised, they can participate in Maryland politics. This is a power grab.”

President Biden has suggested he supports D.C statehood.

But whether the bill will even be taken up in the Senate, much less receive the 10 Republican votes needed to advance, is in question and three Democratic senators have not formally signed on to support the bill.

The bill would shrink the federal district to include buildings such as the Capitol, Supreme Court, White House and other federal buildings. The remainder of Washington, D.C.’s business and residential areas would become the 51st state.

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