Analysis News

House passes Washington DC statehood bill

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Washington D.C. Admission Act. This is the second time that the bill has passed the House, but it is the first time that it has passed with Democratic control of the Senate and White House.

The bill – introduced by DC’s non-voting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton – is symbolically designated H.R. 51 as DC would become the 51st state in the union. It passed in a 216-to-208 party-line vote.

While DC’s 705,749 residents currently lack representation in Congress, statehood would rectify that injustice. The bill refers to the potential new state as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

As previously noted, DC has more residents than the states of Wyoming and Vermont. DC residents pay federal taxes and serve in the military. Despite all of this, they have no representation in the House or Senate.

Under the bill, the federal district remains intact as the nation’s capital, but it would shrink to a two-square-mile tract of land that includes the US Capitol and the White House. The remaining residential and commercial areas would become the nation’s 51st state.

Washington, Douglass Commonwealth would immediately become the nation’s densest state – 11,000 times denser than Alaska, the nation’s least dense state. It would also become the nation’s most educated state and the state with the largest proportion of African Americans.

Ironically – and embarrassingly for critics of statehood – DC would be the second-largest state in terms of population at the time of its admission.

More importantly, though, statehood means that DC residents would no longer be second-class American citizens.

Photo Credit: Mike MaguireFlickrCC BY 2.0