The Senate is moving forward with an effort to make Washington DC the 51st state by scheduling a hearing for June 22. But the final move to statehood is still a long-term prospect in the 50-50 split upper house.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will convene a hearing on Tuesday on whether to grant statehood to Washington DC, which would add a representative and two additional senators to Congress.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, a vocal DC state supporter, is expected to testify with Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, as well as several legal experts.
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The House already passed a DC state law in April, but it would take 60 votes to advance through the Senate with legislative filibuster in place, meaning at least 10 Republicans should join all Democrats. . Republicans broadly called the DC state-building effort a Democratic power game to expand the Senate with representatives from a liberal stronghold and questioned the constitutionality of the federal district’s transformation into a state.
Democrats, however, made the state for the district’s nearly 700,000 people a civil rights issue and argued that Washingtonians should no longer be taxed without full representation in government.
Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters, chairman of the Homeland Security committee that held the hearing, said it was time for DC residents “to have a say in the laws and decisions that govern them “.
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The authors of the DC state law – DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in the House and Delaware Senator Tom Carper in the Senate – have expressed optimism that the state could pass with the Democrats in charge of Congress and a supportive President Biden in the White House.
“The Senate hearing shows that momentum continues to build for the Washington State bill,” Holmes Norton said in a statement.. “The state of DC now enjoys 54% support nationwide, according to the most recent detailed poll, and I expect that support to increase even further after the Senate hearing, as he did so after the House hearings. As the second Senate hearing on the state of DC, next week will be historic. “
According to the plan, the 51st state would be called “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth”, named after Frederick Douglass. The state would be made up of 66 of the 68 square miles of the present Federal District.
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DC would have full control over local affairs and full representation in Congress, which would equate to two Senators and one House representative based on the current population.
The area around the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court and the National Mall would be divided into a federal district controlled by Congress and named the “Capital”.