On Thursday, the House voted 216-208 to grant statehood to Washington, DC. This move is the first time a Congressional chamber has approved establishing DC as a state.
The legislation renames the capital as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named for abolitionist Frederick Douglass, granting it two senators and a voting representative in the House. DC currently has over 700,000 residents, most of whom are people of color. Black residents make up 46% of the city’s population. Multiple states have lower populations than DC, including Vermont and Wyoming.
Last year, the House passed similar legislation but it died in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“Congress has both the moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass H.R. 51,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC’s non voting House delegate. “This country was founded on the principles of ‘no taxation without representation’ and consent of the governed, but D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot consent to the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live,” she said.
This week, the White House confirmed President Biden’s support for DC statehood. The Office of Management of Budget issued a statement declaring that granting DC statehood would “make our union stronger and more just.”
Sources: New York Times 4/22/21; US Census July 2019