The Fight for D.C. Statehood

For 219 years, Washingtonians have lived in the nation’s capital – yet we are not equal. We pay the highest federal taxes per capita of any jurisdiction in the country and our residents have served in all our country’s wars.  But right now, the District of Columbia does not have full representation in the Senate or House, or the ability to govern ourselves without congressional interference.  That is wrong and it needs to change.

In November of 2016, District residents voted overwhelmingly, with more than 85 percent of residents in favor, to become the 51st state.

This January, with a new Democratic House Majority, Congresswoman Norton introduced the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51), which would admit the District as the 51st state, granting our 700,000 taxpaying residents full voting rights and full self-government.  Norton’s bill would make most of the present-day District of Columbia into the State of Washington, D.C., with the remaining territory designated as the nation’s capital.

Support for Norton’s bill has been overwhelming.  H.R. 51 has a record number of House cosponsors (223) and the Senate’s D.C. statehood bill, introduced by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), also has the most cosponsors ever (34).  Earlier this year, the House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which contained extensive findings supporting D.C. statehood, marking the first time in history either chamber of Congress has endorsed D.C. statehood.

In addition, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) strongly endorsed D.C. statehood upon introduction of H.R. 51, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) has endorsed D.C. statehood in a strong op-ed earlier this year, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled a sweeping proposal to combat voter disenfranchisement, including restoring the Voting Rights Act, establishing national, automatic voter registration laws, and supporting D.C. statehood.

H.R. 51 is endorsed by more than 100 national advocacy groups.

Most recently, Congresswoman Norton presided at the historic House Oversight and Reform Committee’s September 19th hearing on H.R. 51.  The testimony presented by D.C. officials and expert witnesses left no doubt that the Washington, D.C. Admission Act is constitutional and that the state would meet all of its financial, economic, and other obligations.

Norton predicts that H.R. 51 will pass the House of Representatives sometime in 2020.  This would be an unprecedented and historic victory for D.C.’s 700,000 residents who have struggled for equality and a voice in their own government.