The potential for Washington, D.C., statehood is once again up for a vote—for the first time since 1993.
Washington, D.C., is once again broaching the topic of statehood. The District of Columbia is a federal district, thus giving it different rights and regulations than the other states in the union. Most importantly, D.C. does not have voting representation in Congress, and this lack of national voice has long been a sore spot for the citizens of D.C.
Despite the fact that D.C. was founded back in 1791, the citizens of D.C. did not actually attain the right to vote in presidential elections until 1961, making the 1964 presidential election their first one. This was only achieved through the inclusion of the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Now, a new bill is slated to appear on the House of Representatives floor. If passed, the proposed bill, "H.R. 51," would grant Washington, D.C., statehood, with full voting representation in Congress—more than the non-voting presence they currently hold. H.R. 51 would also change the name of the city from Washington, District of Columbia, to Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, in honor of advocate and historical figure Frederick Douglass.
This is not the first time D.C. has attempted to gain statehood. The issue was most recently put to a vote in 1993, with a defeat in the House of Representatives of 277 to 153. This has not dissuaded the colloquially-known "New Columbia" movement. In 2016, current D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser called for a District-wide vote to gauge public support of D.C. statehood. An overwhelming 86 percent of D.C. citizens voted in favor of statehood. They then drafted a state constitution to further push the idea forward.
Now that D.C. lawmakers have put the idea on paper, The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 51 later this calendar year.
However, despite the local support, there appear to be mixed feelings within the House, and there is concern about H.R. 51 not passing.
But D.C. lawmakers are confident. The citizens of D.C. pay taxes and serve in the military, and the population of the District outranks the states of Wyoming and Vermont. Should Washington, D.C., gain statehood, some wonder if the U.S. territories would attempt to gain statehood as well.
What do you think will happen? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!