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House Passes Bill To Make DC a State, But 4 Democrats Pose Major Roadblock In The Senate

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On Thursday, the US House of Representatives approved legislation to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state in the nation, sending the bill to the Senate. But the statehood bill, long a goal for the nation’s capital city, faces an uphill climb in a Senate evenly divided between the two parties and 4 Democrats who still are not on board with the proposal.

Republicans have opposed giving D.C. statehood, in part because it would lead to two more Democratic senators and a Democratic House member given the district population’s political leanings. President Biden won the District’s three electoral votes in last year’s election with 92 percent of the vote.

The 216-208 House vote on H.R. 51 comes as Democrats have stepped up their efforts on a series of measures aimed at racial justice. But winning a vote in the Senate would likely require ending the filibuster that requires most legislation to clear a 60-vote hurdle. Even then, not all 50 Democrats in the Senate back making D.C. a state.

The White House on Tuesday formally declared its support for the legislation, saying it would provide the residents of the District with “long overdue full representation 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. This taxation without representation and denial of self governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded,” the White House stated in its official endorsement of the cause.

“Establishing the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just.”

National support for D.C. statehood has increased over the past year, with the country becoming more aware of the District’s inability to control its own National Guard last summer amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd. D.C.’s National Guard is under federal, rather than local, control.

A recent poll from think tank Data for Progress showed that 54 percent of Americans supported statehood for the District.

But a number of Senate Democrats have expressed that they want more details about the bill, prefer prioritizing other legislation, or are just generally lukewarm on the idea of adding 51st state.

Here is a snapshot of four Senate Dems who aren’t yet on board according to Politico:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.): “We’re just still discussing it. I haven’t really gotten into any of that — I have so much other stuff going on.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who co-sponsored D.C. statehood legislation the last go around: “I supported D.C. statehood so I haven’t really studied this bill enough to know whether I’m going to sponsor it or not.”

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.): “Like a lot of things like this, I want to see the details. This is pretty straightforward, but in general I feel that every American has a right to representation in the United States Congress. And there are a lot of folks that live here in D.C. There are a lot of options to do that … I think our democracy is best served when folks have representation in the United States Congress.”

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine): “I’m not signed on yet. I’m still sort of pondering it. There are just other issues that I’m more engaged in at this point. I haven’t really dug into it.”

There is also Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), another mod, who hasn’t weighed in on this issue.