April 22, 2021

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Applauds the Passage of DC Statehood Bill

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee voted to pass H.R. 51, legislation that would admit D.C. as the 51st state – securing for the city’s 712,000 residents voting representation in Congress and full self-government.?Currently, Americans living in the District are subject to federal taxes and federal policies without full representation in the federal government or full self-governance at the local level. 

This legislation, which was introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and has 216 Democratic cosponsors, would grant the new state two voting senators and, based on its population, one voting representative to Congress.? It would also establish an autonomous local government, which would no longer be subjected to Congressional control.? As the violent attack on January 6th and the previous Administration’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors last summer made clear, it is critical that D.C. is empowered to make its own governing decisions – including law enforcement – in order to best protect its residents. 

“It is unacceptable that D.C.’s more than 700,000 residents – a majority of whom are Black and Brown – continue to be denied representation in Congress and equal protection under the law,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “D.C. statehood is a racial justice issue, and a voting rights issue and today’s vote is a long overdue step toward ending the disenfranchisement of D.C. residents that is rooted in our nation’s legacy of white supremacy. I thank Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for leading the way on this critical legislation and I am glad to see the Biden-Harris administration’s support for D.C. statehood.”  

The Constitution grants Congress the authority to admit new states into the Union without need for a constitutional amendment – and it has done so to grant statehood to each of the 37 states admitted after the original thirteen.? When evaluating a bid for statehood, Congress has historically considered support for statehood, resources and population.? D.C. meets this criteria in the following ways: ? 

· D.C. residents have been petitioning for voting representation in Congress and local self-government for more than 200 years – most recently in November 2016, when residents approved a statehood referendum with 86 percent of voters in favor 

· D.C. residents pay the most per capita in federal income taxes and generate the highest per capita GDP in the nation 

  • The D.C. municipal budget is larger than the budgets of twelve states 
  • Its residents have fought in every American war since the Revolution 
  • Its population is larger than two existing states: Wyoming and Vermont 

The 51st state, which would be renamed Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, would be made up of 66 square miles of the city’s current 68 square miles.? The remaining two square miles – comprised of the White House, Capitol, Supreme Court, principal federal monuments and federal buildings adjacent to the National Mall – would be the new federal district and seat of the United States government. 

Last Congress marked the first time in nearly three decades that the House voted on a D.C. statehood bill, and the measure was approved 232 to 180.? After passing the House today, the bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.