House Approves Bill That Would Grant D.C. Statehood

People enjoy the warm weather at the World War II Memorial near the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, U.S. March 27, 2021. REUTERS/Cheriss May

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to pass a bill that would grant statehood to Washington, DC, a Democratic priority that faces obstacles to final passage even with the party now in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. The party line vote was 216-208.

The legislation now faces an uphill fight in the Senate, where it is unlikely to get enough Republican support to clear a 60-vote threshold for passage.

It’s unclear whether even every Senate Democrat would support the measure. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia indicated on Thursday that he is undecided on the DC statehood bill.

“I got so many things on my plate that I haven’t even gotten to that yet,” he told CNN when asked if he supports it.

Democrats have framed the issue of granting statehood to Washington, DC — which voted for Joe Biden over then-President Donald Trump by 92%-5% in November — as an important step for equal representation and voting rights in the United States, while Republicans have argued that the legislation represents a partisan effort by Democrats to push a progressive agenda and tip the scales in Congress in their favor.

DC’s estimated 2019 population — 705,749 — was larger than the estimated populations of 77 of the 435 existing congressional districts, according to one-year estimates from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. DC also had a larger estimated population than two states in 2019: Vermont (623,989) and Wyoming (578,759).

HR 51 was introduced by Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC’s nonvoting House member and a longtime advocate for statehood.

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SOURCE: CNN, Clare Foran