The Democratic-led House on Friday for the first time passed a bill that would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state. While it's not expected to any
The Democratic-led House on Friday for the first time passed a bill that would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state. While it’s not expected to any further — with Republicans controlling the Senate and the White House — here’s how H.R. 51, The D.C. Statehood Act, as proposed by Democrats, would work:
What would the new state be called?
The new state would be called “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.” In order to preserve its abbreviated name, D.C. would stand for “Douglass Commonwealth” after Maryland abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
How would its governance change?
The mayor would become governor and the city council would perform as a legislative assembly. Congress currently serves as a type of overlord over D.C. and can intervene in some of the city’s laws and policies. But the bill would wipe out the role of Congress in D.C.’s affairs.
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Why does D.C. want to become a state?
D.C. residents currently pay taxes but have no voting representation on Capitol Hill. That spawned the city to issue license plates in the mid-1990s which read “Taxation Without Representation.”
The city has no official Senate representation except a “shadow senator,” who isn’t formally recognized by the legislative body. D.C. also has a nonvoting delegate to the House, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). She can do everything in Congress except vote on the House floor.
Calls for statehood were renewed after President Trump angered Democrats, particularly D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, by deploying the National Guard to quell civil unrest in May following the death of George Floyd.
How would D.C. be represented in Congress?
D.C. would get two voting Senators and one voting House member, based on its current population of over 700,000. A big reason Democrats support statehood and Republicans don’t: Those new seats in Congress would almost assuredly go to Democrats.
Would the bill change voting in the presidential election?
No, D.C. is currently recognized in the electoral college; it has three electoral votes.
Why isn’t D.C. a state?
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution calls for the creation of a federal district to be the seat of government. The Founders carved D.C. out of two states, Maryland and Virginia, so no single state would have undue influence, hosting the capital.
However, the legislation would carve out a capital city district, a special political subdivision, around the White House, government buildings, the national mall and U.S. Capitol. That would be all that was left of the “District of Columbia.”
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a statement Wednesday arguing that the tiny federal district could still be beholden to the new state.
“For example, given its small size, the Federal capital would depend entirely on the new State of Washington, D.C. for most, if not all, of the necessary modern services, which directly implicates a concern that troubled the Framers,” OMB said.
The OMB statement also argued that the current House bill is unconstitutional because of how it would take land away from the current district to form a state.
Will the bill make it through the Senate?
The bill is presumed to be dead on arrival in the Senate. Republicans are unlikely to be motivated to support such a plan as it would almost certainly guarantee an additional Democratic House member and, more significantly, two Democratic senators.
President Trump would also likely veto the measure. In a recent interview with the New York Post, Trump claimed that Democrats support D.C. statehood because the district is largely Democratic and they just want two more Senate seats.
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“They want to do that so they pick up two automatic Democrat [seats in the Senate] — you know it’s 100 percent Democrat, basically — so why would the Republicans ever do that?” Trump said. “That’ll never happen unless we have some very, very stupid Republicans around that I don’t think you do.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.