The Biden administration on Tuesday officially announced its support for a long-term Democratic offer to make Washington, DC, the 51st state.
Congress should “provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood” for the more than 700,000 Washington residents who do not have full voting rights in the House of Representatives and Senate, the Bureau of Administration and Budget said in an administrative policy statement.
The White House’s wholehearted support for DC statehood came days before the House was due to vote on a bill that would bring the Commonwealth to “par with the rest of the world.”
The legislation, HR 51, is expected to pass in the House of Representatives but is likely to hit roadblocks in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to break the filibuster.
“Residents of our nation’s capital deserve voting in Congress and full local government,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s Democratic delegate to the House of Representatives and sponsor of the law, in a statement welcoming the OMB.
“With the vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday and the expected adoption and democratic control of the Senate and the White House, we were never closer to statehood,” she said.
Activists hold signs as they attend a DC statehood rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC on March 22, 2021.
Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
Activists have long pushed for Washington to be recognized as a state – with city leaders going so far as to put the protest slogan “tax without representation” on DC license plates – but the issue has historically slipped off the national radar.
Now most Democratic lawmakers support the idea – and they are pushing harder than ever after the 2020 election cycle, when the party took control of the White House and both houses of Congress.
Republicans have largely opposed the statehood proposal. Some accuse the Democrats of trying to use their current slim political majority to consolidate themselves in power by reliably adding Democratic seats to Congress.
“DC statehood is an integral part of the radical left agenda to reshape America along with the Green New Deal, defuse the police and grab the US Supreme Court,” said Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., In one final hearing in Congress month.
Statehood advocates, however, including Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, argue that securing voting rights in a largely black area is at stake.
President Joe Biden officially announced his stance last month when White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that he “believes they deserve representation, so he supports DC statehood.”
However, Tuesday’s statement by the White House Budget Bureau fleshed out the government’s views and specifically endorsed Norton’s upcoming legislation.
“For far too long, the more than 700,000 people in Washington, DC, have been denied full representation in the US Congress,” said the OMB.
“This taxation without representation and denial of self-government is a violation of the democratic values on which our nation was founded. HR 51 incorrectly corrects this by making Washington, DC a state and offering its residents long overdue full representation in Congress Maintaining a federal district that will continue to serve as our nation’s seat of government, “the office said.
The bill, in which more than 200 co-sponsors are involved, was passed on Wednesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform as part of a party line vote. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Said he plans to put HR 51 to the vote on Thursday.
“The voice of every American citizen deserves to be heard – it is time we made statehood a reality for DC,” Hoyer tweeted on Friday.