D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser now has access to the House floor in the newly sworn Congress and she plans to push for D.C. statehood legislation early and often.
The mayor on Monday was granted floor privileges that governors of the states and territories already had, and she quickly made it known that she will champion the statehood cause at every turn.
“To paraphrase Dr. King: when any American is denied democracy, our entire nation is denied those voices and votes,” Bowser said in a statement Wednesday. “But now, we are ready to finally fix this injustice by getting statehood on President Biden’s desk within the first 100 days of the 117th Congress. With our seats at the table, we can help build back better than ever before.”
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), D.C.’s nonvoting member of Congress, spearheaded the access change, as well as the end of a rule stating when District legislation can be considered on the House floor. She thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) for shepherding the changes.
“With these important rules’ changes, a step toward statehood and equal treatment for the District [has been taken],” Norton said. “I’ve introduced legislation to change the mayor of D.C.’s title to governor and, and now the mayor will be able to come to the House floor, just like governors of states and territories. Thank you, Speaker Pelosi and Chairman McGovern, for being champions of D.C. statehood and equality and making these changes. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the 117th Congress.”
On Wednesday, as the U.S. Capitol was attacked by pro-Trump insurrectionists, Bowser lamented her inability to call up the D.C National Guard to assist the Capitol Police and said the time for District statehood is now.
The enthusiasm for the passage of D.C. statehood legislation heightened with the victories of the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, two Georgia Democrats elected to the Senate Tuesday. Both men back D.C. statehood and President-elect Biden has also indicated his support.
While a majority vote in the House would pass a statehood bill, as it did in June, a Senate bill faces more hurdles. In order for a bill of that type to make it to the Senate floor, 60 senators are needed for a cloture vote to end any filibuster.
The elections of Warnock and Ossoff will split the Senate will split evenly between Democrats and Republicans but Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will cast any tie-breaking vote, putting control of the chamber in Dems’ hands.
While the majority of Senate Republicans oppose D.C. statehood because of their belief the District would send two Democrats to the chamber, Josh Burch, the leader of Neighbors for D.C. Statehood, said GOP senators such as Tim Scott of South Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio are open to persuasion on the issue.
D.C.-based organization 51 for 51 advocates Senate rules changes that would prevent a filibuster of D.C. statehood legislation by having the measure pass by 51 votes.
“Just two years ago, the Senate changed this rule so only 51 votes are needed to confirm Supreme Court justices,” a statement on the organization’s website said. “If 51 votes are enough to confirm a Supreme Court justice, it should be enough to make D.C. the 51st state and give D.C. residents the same rights as all other Americans.”