It was a triumphant day for the pro D.C-statehood crowd. The U.S. House of Representatives oversaw an historic measure to make the nation’s capital an official state, with a predictable party-line vote of 216 in agreeance and 208 in opposition. With the bill now headed to the senate where its future is admittedly shaky, the conversation for the 51st state is once again being brought to the table.
The proposal has the benefit of holding strong support among some of the most prominent members of the Democrat Party, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden. However not every Democrat has been eager to voice their excitement over the idea. Notably absent signatures for the co-sponsored statehood bill include the reliably conservative Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, as well as Mark Kelly of Arizona; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Angus King of Maine, an Independent but one who caucuses with the Democrats. (NBC 12) It goes without saying that every Senate Republican can be put down as a no-vote, just as it was among House conservatives. For as the GOP scrambles to try and regain congressional control through voter suppression laws, the idea of a consistently blue city becoming a state and then electing two almost-assured Democratic senators is a daunting premise for Republicans. (CNBC)
Perhaps no one has worked as tirelessly, and as consistently, than the District of Columbia’s very own Representative Elanor Holmes Norton. Having served D.C in the House since 1991, Rep. Norton is one of the leading forces in the fight for 51. In a released statement prior to the House’s vote on the statehood bill, Norton said “Congress has the moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass H.R. 51. The 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.”
However not everyone feels as favorably about H.R. 51. Representative Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) delivered an adamant dismissal of the prospect for D.C. becoming a state, saying it “…wouldn’t even qualify as a singular congressional district.” Behind Mace stood Liz Cheney, a Republican from the state of Wyoming that has a population less than that of D.C’s, with Cheney having been in the House of Representatives since 2017.
To be a state or not to be a state? This is but the latest question that the senate will have to decide upon as both sides ramp up passions for the legislation. Advocates are hopeful that a Democratic majority will deliver the promise of statehood while critics are relying upon a likely filibuster to crush the cause. However at least for now, the fight for 51 will have to continue.