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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

DC Statehood Endorsement Passes House Along Party Lines

The House of Representatives passed its first-ever endorsement of Washington, D.C. statehood in H.R. 1 with a 234 to 193 vote March 8.

Although campaign finances, voting rights and anti-corruption were the primary focuses of the bill, known as the For the People Act, an endorsement for D.C. statehood was also included, according to a March 8 news release from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-D.C.) office.

ELEANOR NORTON/FACEBOOK | Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) proposed a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives endorsing statehood of Washington, D.C.

Introduced to the House in January, H.R. 1 has a record 236 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats. The bill was passed along party lines, with no Republicans voting in favor. Although the House has approved H.R. 1,  Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and have historically opposed D.C. statehood.

D.C. currently operates as a district under federal jurisdiction rather than as a traditional state. Because of this title, the District is granted one delegate seat in the House of Representatives and no seats in the Senate. The House delegate is only eligible to participate in procedural votes and cannot vote on the House floor.

The March 8 vote is a step forward, but more work needs to be done to ensure equality for the District’s citizens, according to Josh Burch, an organizer for an advocacy group of D.C. citizens who support statehood.

The issue of democratic rights should be nonpartisan, which allows Republican lawmakers to also show support for H.R. 1, according to Burch.

“Protecting and expanding democratic rights for all Americans is a non-partisan issue and we call on Sen. McConnell to take up this bill and give it a floor vote in the US Senate as well,” Burch wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Norton has introduced a series of bills to grant D.C. more autonomy, including one to establish a local prosecutor and another to eliminate the congressional review period for legislation. This period allows Congress to have 30 days to veto civil legislation and 60 days to veto criminal legislation.

Among the supporters for D.C. statehood are Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), according to Norton.

“A wave of momentum is sweeping across the country for D.C. statehood,” Norton said in a March 7 news release. “The strong Schumer and Pelosi endorsements, and the 200 cosponsors in the House for D.C. statehood, are among the indicators that the American people want to right the historic wrong for over 200 years of disenfranchisement.”

Warren voiced her support for H.R. 1 in a tweet after the bill was passed March 8. The bill will help fight corruption in the nation’s capital, according to Warren.

Despite the District’s large population, D.C. residents are disproportionately represented in Congress, Warren wrote in a Jan. 28 tweet.

“700,000 people is more than the populations of Wyoming or Vermont. But DC residents don’t have an equal voice in our government – despite paying federal taxes,” Warren tweeted.

Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), another longtime supporter of D.C. statehood, introduced The Washington, D.C. Admission Act, H.R. 1’s counterpart in the Senate, on Feb. 28. The bill has 29 cosponsors.

Norton introduced H.R. 51, known as the Washington, D.C. Admissions Act, which would make D.C. the 51st state. The passage of H.R. 1 is a historic achievement because it draws more attention to H.R. 51, according to Norton.

“After decades of struggle, the House of Representatives today endorsed D.C. statehood in H.R. 1, our major democracy reform bill,” Norton said. “What today’s vote does do is pave the way for a vote on H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, and assures we are on the cusp of righting one of the nation’s oldest continuing wrongs.”

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