Should Washington D.C. be admitted as the 51st State?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

This bill seeks to admit Washington D.C. as a state. The bill ensures that the authority of the federal government will be maintained over the commonwealth. In addition, the mayor would be required to call for an election of 2 senators and 1 representative for the newly formed state. Sponsor: Rep Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat, delegate to the US House of Representatives)
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Opponents say

  "How is it unconstitutional? H.R. 51 violates our Founders' intent, the actual writ of the Constitution, the land itself which should rightfully be returned to Maryland if its original purpose as land for our Nation's Capital is discarded by Congress, and finally the required repeal of the 23rd Amendment. I've explained these Constitutional barriers for two years in Committee, but there is more. D.C. does not perform many of the roles of a true state. A prime example, unlike every other state in the Union, D.C. is not responsible for its prison system. About 8,000 D.C. residents are inmates in federal prisons, and the federal government absorbs the huge expense. These are inmates who would normally be in a state prison, but D.C. only has the capacity to house inmates awaiting trial. Three times in Committee, I've offered an amendment that would transfer this normal state responsibility to D.C. My amendment was rejected by Democrats three times.So, let's look at how D.C. has handled their inmates awaiting trial. According to the Washington Post, D.C. is essentially torturing these inmates with what experts say is mass solitary confinement, 23 hours a day of solitary for every D.C. inmate ongoing for over 400 days. That is certainly a violation of the 8th Amendment. These are human beings awaiting final adjudication. Many will ultimately be found not guilty. Yet, they've been held in solitary confinement for 23 hours every day for over a year." Source: Rep. Clay Higgins (Republican, Louisiana, District 3)

  "If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment... and let the people of America vote." Source: Rep. Joe Manchin (Democrat, West Virginia, Senator)

Proponents say

  "The nearly 700,000 D.C. residents, who have all the obligations of American citizenship, including paying all federal taxes and serving in the armed forces, are denied voting representation in Congress and full local self-government.  This bill would give D.C. residents the voting representation in Congress and full local self-government they have been denied for more than 220 years.  To be content with less than statehood is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of D.C. residents as American citizens. Congress has a moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass this bill. This country was founded on the principles of no taxation without representation and consent of the governed, but D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot consent to the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live. This bill would admit the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth into the Union and reduce the size of the federal district." Source: Rep Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat, delegate to the US House of Representatives)

  "We have been taught that when our founders built a new nation they cried no taxation without representation — a slogan that has stood the test of time. Unfortunately, taxation without representation is the current reality for nearly 700,000 citizens living in the District of Columbia. These citizens do not have a voting representative in either chamber of Congress. They pay more federal taxes per capita than citizens of any of the 50 states but have no say in how those taxes are actually spent. They serve in the military and can be sent to battle in a war that they had no say in fighting. This is wrong and not consistent with the values that we hold dear as Americans. This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue — it’s an issue of fairness. I am proud to once again partner with Congresswoman Norton on this important issue and look forward to the work ahead to make D.C. Statehood a reality." Source: Tom Carper (Democrat, Delaware, Senator)

  "The Administration strongly supports H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress. This taxation without representation and denial of self- governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded. H.R. 51 rights this wrong by making Washington, D.C. a state and providing its residents with long overdue full representation in Congress, while maintaining a Federal District that will continue to serve as our Nation’s seat of government. Establishing the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just. Washington, D.C. has a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as H.R. 51 proceeds through the legislative process to ensure that it comports with Congress’ constitutional responsibilities and its constitutional authority to admit new states to the Union by legislation. The Administration calls for the Congress to provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood for the people of Washington, D.C." Source: OMB