51st StateCommunityDC Statehood

D.C. Statehood Activists Gear Up for Historic June 22 Senate Hearing

Bill Establishing a 51st State Faces Second Round

D.C. statehood activists are organizing their supporters for the June 22 hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs which will consider Sen. Thomas Carper’s legislation designating the District as the 51st state.

“We will be very busy that day,” Anise Jenkins, the executive director of Stand Up! for Democracy in DC, said. “At this point, we will be working in coalition with other organizations on what we will do on the day of the hearing. My guess is we may be sign-waving in the streets near the Senate early in the morning to get people’s attention about the hearing.”

The June 22 hearing marks the second time a Senate committee will consider D.C. statehood legislation. In 2014, Carper, a Delaware Democrat, chaired the Homeland Security committee and held the first hearing on the matter. The present hearing will be chaired by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), a D.C. statehood supporter.

Carper’s bill has 45 cosponsors, all Democrats and Independents who caucus with them. While Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says he supports the District becoming a state, he said he feels it should be done by way of constitutional amendment instead of a bill. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Angus King (I-Maine) haven’t revealed whether they will support Carper’s bill. No Republicans support Carper’s bill as cosponsors but Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) haven’t rejected D.C. statehood publicly yet.

DC VOTE

Bo Shuff serves as the executive director of DC Vote, an organization with the mission of educating members of the Congress and the public of the plight of District residents not having full congressional representation and autonomy over its local affairs like the states. Shuff’s organization played a key role on the grassroots level in helping D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton securing passage of her D.C. statehood bill last year in late June and in April.

Shuff said his organization will have an event on the hearing date but didn’t disclose specifics.

“We are in the planning stages at this point,” Shuff said.

Shuff said members of the public won’t be allowed in the hearing room due to coronavirus restrictions. He said the hearing will be livestreamed and people can watch the proceedings in that manner.

D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY

D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman Charles Wilson said the local party plans to have an event during the hearing. Wilson said he has heard unofficially former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who ran for vice president in 2000, will speak on behalf of Carper’s bill, along with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Norton.

Wilson said District Democrats will be highly motivated in the period leading up to and during the hearing.

“We will be all-hands-on-deck,” he said. “Right now, members of the party are encouraging District residents to call their family and friends in other states to support the D.C. statehood bill.”

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