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U.S. House Votes to Grant Statehood to D.C., Setting Up Senate Fight

Keeping in mind that Washington, D.C. has a larger population than the states of Vermont and Wyoming, Axios [1] reports that, for the second year in a row, the U.S. House today passed a bill to make D.C. the 51st state:

The House of Representatives voted 216-208 on Thursday to pass a bill [2] that would grant statehood to Washington, D.C.

The big picture: It’s the second year in a row that the Democratic-controlled House has voted to recognize D.C. as the 51st state. The bill now heads to a divided Senate, where it faces little chance of reaching the 60 votes necessary to send to President Biden’s desk.

If the bill were to pass the Senate, and that sounds like an uphill climb, it would give the district two senators and a voting representative in the House.

Republicans are against granting statehood saying it’s a power grab by Democrats; Democrats are for it, calling it a civil rights issue for the residents of the District.

Last month there was a tense exchange in the House that gives insight into how each side feels (USA Today [3]):

Democrats and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser argued that statehood for D.C., a city with a Black plurality, is a civil-rights issue. Supporters say statehood is necessary because the residents are disenfranchised with the lack of representation in Congress.

House Republicans … pressed witnesses on the constitutionality of making D.C. a state and accused Democrats of seeking statehood for political gain.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., asked Bowser which direction the political pendulum swung in the District, and if the new senators would subsequently hold Democratic beliefs.

“D.C. is a pawn being used by congressional Democrats to gain power,” Foxx said after Bowser said D.C. was “more than slightly Democratic.”

Since 2000, according to the Brookings Institute, the Democratic presidential nominee has captured over 89% of the vote in D.C.

Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., thanked Foxx for “letting the cat out of the bag” with her questioning about why Republicans have opposed statehood. He said statehood is about race and representation.

Supporters of statehood pointed to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as a reason why statehood is needed.

Governors have the authority to deploy the National Guard, but due to D.C.’s status as a federal district rather than a territory, Bowser was unable to do so for support on Jan. 6 because, despite being the top official, she is mayor. The power to call the National Guard in D.C. currently lies with the president, secretary of Defense and secretary of the Army.

Residents’ vehicles sport license plates with the motto, “Taxation Without Representation.”

So what’s next? Some say this battle could continue for years [4].