House Committee Passes DC Statehood Bill

The bill is now headed to the House floor

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The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted Tuesday in favor of a bill to make D.C. the 51st state, sending the legislation to the House floor.

Dozens of D.C. residents, most members of the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser filled the hearing room.

"Our statehood bill is clearly constitutional. Congress has the authority to make Washington, Douglass Commonwealth a state," Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said during the hearing.

“We emphasized today what supporters of statehood already knew coming in: DC statehood is constitutional, we have a plan in place to make it happen, and it is the only way to fix the injustice of denying more than 700,000 Washingtonians a vote in Congress," Bowser said in a statement.

The hearing was heated at times as lawmakers on the committee brought up partisan issues such as guns, abortion and immigration.

"It is ridiculous. We're talking about protecting the sanctity of human life. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. The document that started this grand experiment we call America - the very first thing they mention," Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, said.

At one point, Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, said D.C. residents should go to another state if they want representation in Congress.

"I think the people here can move if they choose to," Roy said.

Bowser called the Republicans' remarks "relentless and forced attacks" in her statement.

"By focusing their attacks on our values, opponents of statehood have proven once again that they have no other case to make – constitutional or otherwise," she said.

"We need residents to show up in force," Bowser said in an email message to the public before the hearing.

It is the first markup for a statehood bill since 1993, committee chair Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., said. A markup session ends when a committee votes on whether to send the bill to the House floor.

The bill considered by lawmakers, H.R. 51: The Washington D.C. Admission Act, would give the city of 700,000 admissions into the Union and voting representation in Congress.

In September, the committee took up the bill in a 4-hour hearing where Mayor Bowser and Council Chair Phil Mendelson testified. It was the first time a D.C. statehood bill got a hearing in more than 25 years.

The House Oversight Committee scheduled that hearing under chair Rep. Elijah Cummings, a longtime ally of Del. Norton in support of statehood who died in October.

But statehood is becoming more popular with Democrats countrywide, and the new chair, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, says she has voiced support of H.R. 51 for over a decade. She also co-sponsored the bill.

"Neither chamber of Congress has ever passed the D.C. statehood bill on the floor," Maloney said in a statement about the markup meeting. "I hope this year will be different."

2020 White House Candidates on D.C. Statehood

Here are all of the candidates that support statehood for Washington, D.C., or have declined to take a stance.

Click on each candidate to find out more.

Maggie More, Nina Lin

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