The Biden administration said it strongly supports a bill to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state and the president on Tuesday urged swift passage of the measure in Congress.
“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,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement of administration policy. “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.”
Most observers expect H.R. 51, known as the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, to pass the House on Thursday, but the measure is sure to get a lot of pushback in the evenly divided Senate.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a longtime and tireless advocate for statehood, said the time has come for full representation for District residents.
“The residents of our nation’s capital deserve voting representation in Congress and full local self-government,” the Democrat said. “With Thursday’s House vote and expected passage, along with Democratic control of the Senate and White House, we have never been closer to statehood.”
Because some Senate Democrats like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin have ruled out legislation to either eliminate the filibuster or relax the filibuster rules, it’s unlikely the required 60 votes for passage could be found in the Senate.
“D.C. statehood is a key part of the radical leftist agenda to reshape America,” GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky said, signaling that there would be no Republican support for passage in the upper chamber.
The Senate is evenly split at 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie-breaking vote.
The filibuster requires that laws are passed with at least 60 votes. Only bills — usually financial measures — can pass on a simple majority using the process known as reconciliation.
Still, establishing “the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just,” the White House said. “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 said it looks forward to working with Congress as H.R. 51 proceeds through the legislative process to ensure that it comports with Congress’s 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.,” White House officials said.