“The House on Friday approved landmark legislation granting statehood to Washington, D.C., in a 232-180 vote,” reported the Hill.
- This vote was “the first time either chamber has passed legislation to elevate the District to the 51st state.”
- The idea of D.C. statehood has “gained steam amid the national calls for racial justice that have followed the police killing of George Floyd last month,” as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) argued that “race underlies every argument against D.C. statehood.”
- Many desire this change to “empower [D.C.] residents with long-sought voting representation within the halls of Congress.”
- The Hill noted that the legislation would grant D.C. “one voting representative in the House and two in the Senate,” while at present, “Norton is the District’s lone delegate, with voting powers in committees but not on the House floor.” D.C. has no senators.
“People in the District of Columbia pay taxes, fight our wars, risk their lives for our democracy. And yet ... they have no vote in the House or the Senate about whether we go to war, and how those taxes are exacted and how this is all played, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in the Capitol, a few hours before the vote. “We're at a state of compromise, and we think it's very long overdue.”
However, this issue is “highly partisan,” as many Republicans oppose it.
- In this vote, “every Democrat except one, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), voted in favor of the proposal, which was sponsored by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), while every Republican opposed it.”
- Many Republicans, such as Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), think that such a change is an attempt to gain more power by Democrats.
“My friends on the other side of the aisle may gasp and protest and outrage at the suggestion that what this is all about is an attempt to get two more Democratic senators. But that's what this is really all about,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) said on the floor. “The Constitution clearly establishes a federation of sovereign states, [and] the representation here in Washington, D.C., comes from those states, the federation of those states.
Ultimately, “the vote is… largely symbolic,” as “Democrats are hoping to highlight their legislative priorities for voters to see” before November’s elections.