D.C. Statehood Hearing Reinvigorates Statehood Movement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that yesterday’s historic Senate hearing on District of Columbia statehood will be remembered not only because it was the first official senate hearing on D.C. statehood; it will be remembered for reinvigorating the movement for statehood itself and for attracting the largest and most joyful turnout ever at a hearing on a D.C. issue.
“The outpouring signaled not only what residents want, but their willingness to hear what it will take to win passage of a bill on a difficult issue,” Norton said. “Residents came knowing that the Congress in recent years has acquired a history-making record of low productivity even on ‘must- pass’ legislation. Quite apart from attracting unprecedented support from members of the House and Senate who broke the record of cosponsors, the most important effect of the hearing is the new alert it has given to residents that their role in building public support is now key. In agreeing to hold yesterday’s hearing, as a matter of principle, Senator Tom Carper has thrown D.C. residents a ball full of momentum. Our challenge is to seize the momentum and this rare moment for statehood.”
Norton joined statehood supporters at Union Pub on Capitol Hill after the hearing for an impromptu celebration. Supporters indicated they were already planning for a meeting very shortly to build on the support for statehood and chart next steps.
Norton got the only House vote on statehood, in 1993, not long after being elected to Congress. Almost two-thirds of the Democrats and one Republican voted for the bill, giving it a strong start, but the Democrats lost the House majority in the next Congress. Since that vote, Norton was able to get the D.C. House Voting Rights Act through the House in 2007 and the Senate in 2009, which would have given D.C. a voting House member, had it not been derailed by a National Rifle Association-backed amendment that would have wiped out D.C.’s gun safety laws.