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U.S. Rep. Newman (IL-03) Votes To Pass Washington D.C. Statehood Bill To Ensure 700,000 Americans Have Fair Representation

April 22, 2021

H.R. 51 will admit Washington D.C. as the 51st state and ensure that 700,000 D.C. residents have fair representation in the U.S. government

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Marie Newman (D-IL) voted to pass H.R. 51, the Washington D.C. Admission Act, which would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state in the nation, ensuring its more than 700,000 taxpaying residents finally receive full representation in Congress and total local self-government. As part of the legislation passed today, the new state would be named Washington, Douglass Commonwealth (D.C.) in honor of Frederick Douglass, the great American statesman and nation’s foremost abolitionist. 

“More than 700,000 Americans in Washington, D.C. are paying more federal taxes per capita than any other state in the nation, all while without full voting representation in either chamber of Congress. No American should be denied Congressional representation solely based on where they live. I am honored to vote for this long-overdue change to ensure that residents of D.C. can have the same voice in our government as residents of my home state of Illinois,” said Congresswoman Newman. “To deny D.C. residents statehood is to deny them the most fundamental American right: the right to elected representation. I am committed to working every day to strengthen our democracy, and I am proud to vote for D.C. statehood as an important step towards that goal.” 

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. 

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.