House Passes Bill to Make DC the 51st State

The measure looks doomed in the Senate, but advocates cite momentum for the cause
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2021 11:55 AM CDT
Idea of a 51st State Takes One Step Forward
Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC's nonvoting delegate in Congress.   (Caroline Brehman/Pool via CQ Roll Call)

51 states? The idea became a smidge closer to reality on Thursday when the House passed a measure to bestow statehood on the District of Columbia, reports the Hill. Now, however, comes the hard part. Coverage:

  • The bill passed the House 216-208, but it faces monumental odds in the Senate, notes Axios. Advocates would need to win 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. And because DC is overwhelmingly Democratic, nobody in the GOP wants to give the opposing party two more seats in the Senate and one more in the House. What's more, it's not even clear that all Democrats would vote in favor, per the AP. Passage is probably only possible if Democrats scrap the filibuster, but even then it's not guaranteed.
  • Still, the Washington Post reports that proponents see momentum building for the movement—especially given new concerns about disenfranchised voters—and they at least look forward to the Senate holding its first-ever hearing on the issue now that Democrats control the chamber. The House also passed statehood last year, but it went nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate.

  • “We will try to work a path to get [statehood] done,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer in a statement. The White House, meanwhile, called for swift passage. “For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, DC have been deprived of full representation in the US Congress," says the White House statement, referring to the situation with the historically familiar charge of "taxation without representation."
  • On the House floor Thursday, a GOP opponent to statehood, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, said the nation's founding fathers "never wanted DC to be a state and they specifically framed the Constitution to say so." Democrat Gerald Connolly countered that Congress made Kentucky a state even though it was originally part of Virginia.
  • USA Today has a Q&A on the intricacies of the question. While DC has three electoral votes, its long-serving House delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, currently cannot vote on legislation.
(More Washington DC statehood stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.