Flag of the District of Columbia
Flag of the District of Columbia (Courtesy of dpw.dc.gov)

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform passed legislation on Wednesday to make D.C. the 51st state despite Republican amendments and to the joy of city leaders now looking ahead to floor consideration of the measure next week.

The Washington, D.C. Admission Act, authored by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and boasting 215 co-sponsors in the chamber, passed the committee on a party-line 25-19 vote in a sometimes-contentious four-hour markup session.

Much of that time consisted of the consideration of Republican amendments on a wide range of topics such as the city retroceding into Maryland, reimbursing the federal government for the costs of the judiciary and the corrections systems and forcing the legislation to address the issue of the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees District residents three Electoral College votes being nullified once statehood is achieved.

On a strictly party-line vote, all of the Republican amendments were rejected.

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the committee’s ranking Republican, denounced Norton’s bill as politically driven.

“The real idea of this bill is to create two Democratic senators,” Comer said. “It is also further the agenda of [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer to further a socialist utopia on the country.”

Despite Republican protests, the bill will move forward to the House floor, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said a vote on the bill will take place next week.

Norton said the successful committee vote moved the District nearer to attaining statehood.

“Last year, the House passed H.R. 51, which was the first time in history a chamber had passed the D.C. statehood bill,” she said. “This year, H.R. 51 had 215 co-sponsors, virtually guaranteeing House passage next week. With Democrats controlling the House, the Senate and the White House, we have never been closer to statehood.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser also praised the committee’s action ahead of DC Emancipation Day celebrations set for Friday.

“As we get ready to celebrate DC Emancipation Day, we are reminded that Washingtonians are still not free and we will not be free until we have the representation in Congress that we deserve as taxpaying American citizens,” the mayor said. “But today we are one step closer to finally righting this 220-year-old wrong.

“We thank Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney for fighting for Washingtonians and prioritizing D.C. statehood,” Bowser said. “Last year, we came closer to D.C. statehood than ever before. Now, with another House vote just one week away and historic support for D.C. statehood in the Senate, we are ready to finally end the disenfranchisement of more than 700,000 Americans and make Washington, D.C., the 51st state.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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