As President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda navigates between the coronavirus relief and the Trump impeachment trial, there’s one item that will be competing for his attention: The statehood for the District of Columbia. Statehood would give citizens of the District full authority over local issues, as well as grant them full representation in Congress.
Biden, like the last two Democratic presidents, reiterated his support for admitting D.C. as a state on the campaign trail. More Americans have come to back the idea in the last year, as well.
Now, according to The Hill, a group of Senate Democrats led by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) reintroduced legislation to give Washington, D.C., statehood on Wednesday, marking the first major efforts to push toward statehood since the Capitol riots earlier this month.
“This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue; it’s an American issue because the lack of fair representation for D.C. residents is clearly inconsistent with the values on which this country was founded,” Carper said in a statement.
Washington, D.C. is home to roughly 700,000 residents, a population that is larger than both Wyoming and Vermont. However, Republicans argue the effort is a push to expand Democratic interests on Capitol Hill.
Critics also argue that the push goes against the 23rd amendment, which gives D.C. residents the right to vote in presidential elections, but gives them as much say as the “least populous State.”
In order for Washington, D.C., to become a state, Democrats would need the support of a minimum of 10 Republicans. However, if the Senate ends the filibuster, statehood could be accomplished with 50 votes in favor plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Harris.
The reintroduction of the bill comes as calls for the District of Columbia to become the 51st state have grown louder in the wake of the riots at the Capitol building this month. Despite the building being located in the heart of the D.C., the city had no power to activate the National Guard as other states, like Virginia, have been able to do.
Hours before the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) called for a vote on statehood.
“Just like the millions of Americans who voted nationwide and the thousands who organized and voted in Georgia, we are ready to build a more perfect union – one in which all voices are heard, one in which we work together to uplift families in cities, and suburbs, and small towns, and one in which the 712,000 residents of Washington, DC have full access to our nation’s democracy,” Bowser said, according to The Hill.