WASHINGTON - The House Oversight Committee has voted to advance legislation Wednesday that would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state in the U.S., sending the bill to a full vote of the House next week.
The committee voted 25-19 among party lines to support statehood after much debate over the constitutionality and political ramifications.
Backed by D.C. residents, Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, supporters of statehood argued it's long overdue to end the taxation of Washingtonians without federal government representation.
Mayor Bowser released this statement on the vote:
"As we get ready to celebrate DC Emancipation Day, we are reminded that Washingtonians are still not free and we will not be free until we have the representation in Congress that we deserve as taxpaying American citizens. But today we are one step closer to finally righting this 220-year-old wrong. We thank Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney for fighting for Washingtonians and prioritizing DC statehood. Last year, we came closer to DC statehood than ever before. Now, with another House vote just one week away and historic support for DC statehood in the Senate, we are ready to finally end the disenfranchisement of more than 700,000 Americans and make Washington, DC the 51st state."
Under the plan, the 51st state would be called "Washington, Douglass Commonwealth," named for Frederick Douglass. The state would consist of 66 of the 68 square miles of the present-day federal district.
Republicans have been firmly against D.C. statehood, calling it a Democratic power grab designed to shift control in the Senate in favor of Democrats by adding two senators from a liberal stronghold.
D.C. has a population of more than 700,000 residents -- greater than Wyoming and Vermont -- but the residents don't have voting members in Congress or full control over local affairs. However, the District of Columbia pays more in federal taxes than 21 states and more per capita than any state, according to the 2019 IRS data book.