WASHINGTON — After a spirited debate on the House floor, the House of Representatives voted Friday to pass a bill (232-181) that would allow D.C. to become the 51st state, allowing for full representation in Congress.
The bill comes at a time when statehood is on a lot of minds, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the recent racial justice protests in D.C.
While the bill still needs to pass the Republican-backed Senate before finalizing -- where it's likey to be filibustered and killed -- it's the first time in history that either house of Congress passed legislation to grant full statehood.
Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota was the only reported Democratic to vote no on the bill.
Back in March, Mayor Bowser expressed outrage over the fact that the District was given only $500 million -- $725 million less than states -- in the Senate-approved $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.
"If D.C. were a state, it would not be shortchanged by the CARES Act," Hoyer said in Tuesday's press conference. He said as a state, it would be "protected by the kinds of civil rights violations we saw at Lafayette Square."
In a recent interview with James Corden on "The Late Late Show," Mayor Bowser said she thinks statehood will happen.
"What we have seen...is that America really sees the problem with it. 700,000 people live here, we all pay taxes just like every other person in all 50 states, we send our people to war, we're larger than two states and close in size to two others. And we pay more taxes than we get back from the federal government," Bowser said.
H.R. 51 would make most of present-day D.C. into the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, with the remaining territory designated as the nation’s capital, and remaining without electoral representation.
Author of the bill, Eleanor Holmes Norton said Tuesday, “Statehood means much more to us than dollars and cents. Statehood is priceless”
To pass a bill through the House, 218 votes are needed. Norton's bill has 224 co-sponsors.
Pelosi said D.C.'s lack of statehood is, "Unjust, unequal, undemocratic and unacceptable."
"51 will take a step toward a more perfect Union," Hoyer said.
Mayor Bowser thanked the congressional leaders for fighting for statehood, noting, "This means everything to the people of Washington, D.C."
While the statehood bill is likely to pass the House vote, it is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
According to the D.C. Statehood Office, 86% of D.C. voters support statehood. A 2019 poll from Gallup found most Americans don't believe D.C. should become a state. The survey called 1,018 people across the United States and found 29% of people are in favor of statehood for D.C., while 64% oppose it; 8% of those surveyed didn't have an opinion on the matter.
Here are six things you need to know about D.C. statehood.
According to the Tax Foundation, D.C. residents pay some of the highest federal taxes per capita in the nation, but have no representation in the House or the Senate. If D.C. becomes a state, residents will finally have a say on how their tax dollars are spent.
Washington, D.C. has more residents than Wyoming and Vermont, according to the U.S. Census.
The last time the statehood bill went up for a vote was in 1993, but 105 Democrats and 172 Republicans voted against it.
A recent Gallup Poll showed most Americans said "No" to statehood for the District of Columbia.
If D.C. becomes a state, it could be called the "State of Washington, D.C.," in which "D.C." stands for "Douglass Commonwealth" in honor to abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who lived in the District. It could also be called the "New Columbia."
The new state would be separate from the Federal District of Columbia. The Federal district would include the White House, the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, the National Mall and nearby monuments. The remaining parts of the District would become the "State of Washington, D.C." or the "New Columbia."