Democrats, Republicans squabble over D.C. statehood effort

March 24, 2021

Lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee clashed on Monday over the effort to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state—a proposal that has been gaining popularity among Democrats and the public, NBC News reports.

GOP members faced off with Democrats over “the Washington, D.C. Admission Act“—which was introduced in late January in the House by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents D.C.; and in the Senate by Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware.

According to NBC, Democrats argued that Washingtonians are treated as second-class citizens—performing the responsibilities of citizens, but not receiving representation in Congress in return. Republicans, by contrast, voiced their staunch opposition to the effort, claiming that the legislation violates the Constitution.

Norton, however, noted that the Constitution’s Admissions Clause gives Congress authority to admit new states, with 37 current states having been admitted through an act of Congress. The longtime delegate who has pushed for D.C. statehood for years explained that the issue is personal.

“My own family has lived through almost 200 years of change in the District of Columbia, since my great grandfather, Richard Holmes, as a slave, walked away from a plantation in Virginia, and made his way to the district. Today it is my great honor to serve in a city where my father’s family has lived without equal representation for almost two centuries,” she said. “Congress can no longer allow D.C. residents to be sidelined in the democratic process.”

Norton said that D.C. has “never been closer” to statehood until now—with Democrats in control of the House, Senate, and White House.

Democrats have intensified their push for D.C. statehood since they took control of the Senate this year. The House would likely pass the legislation again, which it did in the last Congress, but it has little chance of clearing the evenly divided Senate given the 60-vote hurdle to overcome a filibuster.

Many GOP lawmakers have expressed opposition to D.C. statehood given that any congressional representation would almost certainly be Democratic.

Research contact: @NBCNews

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