WASHINGTON: Proponents of statehood for Washington, DC, face a milestone moment in their decades-long movement to reshape the American political map.
The House will vote Thursday on legislation that would create the new state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, with one representative and two senators. A tiny sliver of land including the White House, the US Capitol and the National Mall would remain as a federal district. The measure is expected to pass easily in the House and be sent to the Senate – where the real fight awaits.
For lifelong statehood proponents like Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s long-serving and nonvoting delegate in the House, the vote will be a culmination of a life’s work.
“My service in the Congress has been dedicated to achieving equality for the people I represent, which only statehood can provide,” Norton said at a Wednesday news conference. “My life as a third-generation Washingtonian has marched toward this milestone.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wearing a “DC 51” face mask at the news conference, called Norton the “patron saint of DC statehood” and predicted the vote would “reaffirm the truth that all deserve a voice in our democracy.”
The measure has received strong support from President Joe Biden‘s White House, which released a statement Tuesday calling Washington’s current status “an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded.”
The White House statement praised Washington as worthy of statehood, with “a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy.”
The bill is certain to face strong Republican opposition, given that the proposed 51st state would be overwhelmingly Democratic. An identical statehood bill passed the House in 2020, but it quickly died in the Republican-controlled Senate. Now, with the 2020 elections leaving Democrats in control of both chambers and the White House, Republican senators may resort to a filibuster to stymie the statehood bill.
A March hearing by the House oversight committee provided a preview of the Republican talking points, with a succession of GOP representatives


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