As part of the new Congress, Democrats are prioritizing several pro-democracy reforms – including statehood for Washington DC. On Wednesday, Democrats in both the House and Senate introduced legislation that puts DC on the path to becoming the 51st state.
As NBC News reports:
The measure was reintroduced in the House by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the District of Columbia, and its companion was unveiled in the Senate by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. As of Tuesday evening, Norton said that she had more than 200 co-sponsors in the House.
“There’s never been a time when statehood for the District was more likely,” Norton said in a statement, adding the bill was passed by the House last year for the first time and now had a “record” 202 co-sponsors. With the Senate companion bill also gaining co-sponsors, “we’re ready to achieve voting representation and full local self-government for the 712,000+ residents of the District of Columbia,” she said.
As others have pointed out, DC has more residents than the states of Wyoming and Vermont (and DC residents pay federal taxes), yet it has no representation in the House or Senate. Eleanor Holmes Norton has served as DC’s non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives since 1991.
The Democratic-controlled House made history last year when it passed a bill to make DC a state. That bill died in the Republican-controlled Senate. Following the 2020 elections and the Georgia Senate runoffs earlier this month, the Senate is split evenly. Democrats nominally control the chamber thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
The prospects in the Senate are bleak if Democrats fail to abolish the anti-democratic filibuster, which allows a minority of senators to block legislation. We’ve argued that the Senate should abolish the filibuster to pass pro-democracy reforms like DC statehood.
In fact, the Senate’s ability to ban political gerrymandering ahead of redistricting, pass stricter anti-corruption and nepotism laws, impose new disclosure requirements for donors and super PACs, and enact universal voter registration hinges on abolishing or dramatically reforming the filibuster.