Iowa Democrats Make History With Vote For D.C. Statehood

Loebsack, Finkenauer photo by Julie Fleming

Iowa’s three Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives voted today to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state.

The Washington, D.C. Admission Act passed the Democrat-controlled House along party lines, 232-180. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. No Republicans supported the measure.

In a speech Friday on the House floor, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s non-voting delegate, said D.C. pays more federal taxes per capita than any other state and pays more federal taxes than 22 states. The district’s population also is larger than Wyoming and Vermont, she said.

“Congress has two choices,” Holmes Norton said, wearing a red D.C. statehood mask around her neck. “It can continue to exercise undemocratic, autocratic authority over the 705,000 American citizens who reside in our nation’s capital, treating them, in the words of Fredrick Douglass, as ‘aliens, not citizens, but subjects.’ Or Congress can live up to this nation’s promise and ideals and pass H.R. 51.”

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D.C. statehood has not been voted on in Congress since 1993 and, until Friday’s vote, had never passed either chamber. New states have not been added to the union since Alaska and Hawaii joined in 1959.

Residents of Washington, D.C., have no voting member of Congress, leaving statehood activists to argue city residents unfairly pay federal taxes while having no voice at the nation’s Capitol.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats argue the bill is more needed than ever, given that D.C. did not receive fiscal relief funds awarded to states through the CARES Act and the president’s use of a federal police force to disperse protestors.

“The federal occupation of D.C. occurred solely because the president thought he could get away with it here,” Holmes Norton said. “He was wrong.”

The bill is now eligible for debate in the Senate, but the White House already has come out against it.

President Trump said in an interview in May that D.C. statehood will “never happen unless we have some very, very stupid Republicans.”

“D.C. will never be a state,” Trump told the New York Post. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.”

 

By Elizabeth Meyer
Posted 6/26/20

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