The House of Representatives will vote on making Washington, D.C., a state on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON — Legislation that could make D.C. the 51st state will now be sent to the House floor for a vote after it passed through committee Wednesday afternoon.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a markup of H.R. 51 (the Washington, D.C. Admission Act) and voted 25-19 to advance the bill out of committee. Under the bill, D.C. would be renamed Washington Douglass Commonwealth, named after Frederick Douglass.
The legislation, titled H.R. 51, would create the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named after Frederick Douglass. It would give D.C. two U.S. senators and a voting representative in the House, like every other state. The bill would also cordon off the White House, Capitol, and National Mall to remain under federal control as the seat of the U.S. government.
Republicans in Congress oppose admitting the district as a state; they believe that admitting Washington would automatically give Democrats two new senators and further tilt the balance of the Senate toward the Democrats.
Some activists advocating for D.C. statehood have called on the Senate to eliminate the filibuster, which would allow the legislation to pass with a simple majority. But at least two Democrats have said they are against ending the Senate tradition.
The Office of Legal Counsel in 2007 thought it to be unconstitutional, the Justice Department under former President Reagan and former President Carter stated the transformation was unconstitutional, and so did Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, when he sat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A letter was sent to President Joe Biden and Congress from twenty-two state Attorneys General, arguing Washington, D.C., cannot transition into a state via legislation, only through the method of a Constitutional amendment.
The primary arguments against D.C. statehood are:
- Our nation’s capital was always meant to be unique. The Framers established in the Constitution’s District Clause that the nation’s capital is a federal district, existing beyond the borders or influence of any state.
- H.R. 51 is doubly unconstitutional, violating both the plain meaning of the District Clause as well as the necessary implications of the Twenty-Third Amendment.
- Even those who support D.C. statehood admit district residents enjoy special benefits due to where they live and would enjoy an outsize influence in Congress.
H.R. 51 was first introduced by Democrats in Biden’s first 100 days, along with packing the Supreme Court, amnesty, reparations, federalized elections, and banning the Electoral College.