Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Norton Supports Puerto Rican Statehood Bill, Urges 18 Republican Cosponsors to Support D.C. Statehood Bill

Dec 9, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sent a letter today to 18 Republican Members of Congress cosponsoring the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act (H.R. 4901), requesting they also consider cosponsoring her D.C. statehood bill (H.R. 51).  Norton, a cosponsor of H.R. 4901, says Puerto Ricans deserve the equal citizenship that statehood provides – as do the 700,000 D.C. residents, who pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the United States.

In her letter, Norton writes that, “statehood for Puerto Rico and for the District of Columbia should be bipartisan issues.” Further, she writes: “Statehood is the only solution that accords full and equal citizenship rights for residents of the District.  To accept less than statehood would concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of D.C. residents as citizens of the United States.  That is a concession no American citizen has ever made, and one that D.C. residents will not make as they approach the 218th year in their fight for equal treatment in their country.  H.R. 51 reaffirms our determination to obtain each and every right enjoyed by other citizens of the United States by becoming a state.”

The letter was sent to:

Don Bacon (R-NE)
Jim Banks (R-IN)
Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR)
John Katko (R-NY)
Peter King (R-NY)
Doug LaMalfa (R- CA)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Bill Posey (R-FL)
Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS)
Ross Spano (R-FL)
Elise Stefanik (R-NY)
Michael Waltz (R-FL)
Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Don Young (R-AK)

Norton’s full letter can be read below.

December 9, 2019

The Honorable [Member Name]

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear [Member Name]:

            Like me, you are a cosponsor of the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act (H.R. 4901).  As a matter of equality and fairness, I am writing to request that you also consider cosponsoring my bill that would admit the District of Columbia as a state, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51).  Puerto Ricans deserve the equal citizenship statehood provides.  So do D.C. residents, who pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the United States.

            The residents of the nation’s capital are the only full federal taxpaying Americans who are not treated as equal citizens.  Since the founding of the nation, District residents have always carried all the obligations of citizenship, including payment of federal taxes and serving in each one of the nation’s wars, all without voting representation in either house of Congress or freedom from congressional interference in purely local matters.

The Washington, D.C. Admission Act would create a state from the eight wards of the District.  This state, of course, would have no jurisdiction over the remaining federal enclave that Members of Congress and visitors associate with the capital of our country.  The U.S. Capitol Complex, the principal federal monuments, federal buildings and grounds, the National Mall, the White House and other federal property here would remain under federal jurisdiction.  Our bill provides that the State of Washington, D.C. would be equal to the other states in all respects, as is always required for states’ admission, including in obligations and rights.  The District recognizes that it can enter the Union only on an equal basis, and is prepared to do so.

Statehood is the only solution that accords full and equal citizenship rights for residents of the District.  To accept less than statehood would concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of D.C. residents as citizens of the United States.  That is a concession no American citizen has ever made, and one that D.C. residents will not make as they approach the 218th year in their fight for equal treatment in their country.  H.R. 51 reaffirms our determination to obtain each and every right enjoyed by other citizens of the United States by becoming a state.

            Statehood for Puerto Rico and for the District of Columbia should be bipartisan issues.  In his signing statement on the D.C. Home Rule Act in 1973, President Nixon wrote, “As the Nation approaches the 200th anniversary of its founding, it is particularly appropriate to assure those persons who live in our Capital City rights and privileges which have long been enjoyed by most of their countrymen.”  Viet Dinh, a leading constitutional scholar who served as U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy in the George W. Bush administration (now a professor of constitutional law at the Georgetown University Law Center), testified that “courts reaching the merits would likely find the [D.C. statehood bill] constitutional.”

Please also cosponsor the D.C. statehood bill.  If you have any questions, please contact me or have your staff contact Trent Holbrook in my office at (202) 225-8050 or trent.holbrook@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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