The House voted down party lines to grant statehood to Washington DC, but the bill stands little chance of passing in the divided Senate, The New York Times reports.
The bill would establish a 51st state called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, in honor of emancipation leader Frederick Douglass.
The new state would have full representation in Congress while leaving the White House, Capitol Hill, the National Mall, and other federal property in the federal capital district.
The House also passed the bill last year but it was rejected by the Republican-led Senate.
“Congress has both the moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass H.R. 51,” nonvoting DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who sponsored the legislation, said on Thursday. “This 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.”
Senate odds dim:
The House approved the bill 216-208 but it faces little chances of passing in the 50-50 Senate where Democrats need the support of 10 Republicans to defeat a filibuster.
Not a single Republican has backed the bill and many have opposed it. Some Republicans, like Mitt Romney, have proposed a compromise in which DC would become part of Maryland.
Several Democrats have also been mum on whether they would support the bill as well.
“Statehood for the District of Columbia is about showing respect for our democracy, for the American people and for our Constitution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. “For more than two centuries, the people in Washington, D.C., have been denied their right to fully participate in our and their democracy.”
Republicans have accused Democrats of pushing for full representation for the district’s 700,000 residents to get additional Senate seats.
“They never wanted the seat of our government to be a state, and they specifically framed the Constitution to say so,” said Georgia Rep. Jody Hice. “And yet, what the Democrats really are trying to do, that they will not admit, is gaining even more representation by creating a city-state whereby they get two more senators.”
More moderate Republicans have suggested retroceding the city into Maryland, which has drawn opposition in both DC and Maryland.
“Instead of jumping to full-fledged statehood — which would conveniently add two brand-new Democrats to the U.S. Senate — we should address the underlying issue, which is representation,” said Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger. “Let’s respect the institutions of our democracy and have real conversations about fair congressional representation for the District of Columbia.”