NETWORK Welcomes H.R.51 for D.C. Statehood Re-Introduction
On January 24, 2023, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, led a group of Senate Democrats in reintroducing S.51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state and give Washington D.C. citizens full representation in Congress. This legislation is the Senate companion to H.R.51, introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia.
Minister Christian Watkins
January 18, 2023
On January 9, 2023, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) introduced H.R.51, the Washington D.C. Admission Act, to the 118th Congress. The bill was introduced with 165 original cosponsors, which Rep. Norton noted was the most cosponsors of any bill introduced that day.
Rep. Norton has introduced this bill on the first day of every Congress for decades. Each time it has gained more support. In June 2019, the D.C. Statehood Bill passed the House for the first time and it passed again in April 2021, with NETWORK Spirit-filled justice-seekers adding their voices to the call for D.C. Statehood.
NETWORK strongly supports the movement for D.C. statehood to uphold every citizen’s right and responsibility to participate in the political process as an expression of their inherent human dignity.
D.C. Statehood is a Racial Justice Issue
Voting representation is the foundation of our democracy, and if passed into law, this legislation would finally extend it to the people of D.C. With a majority Black and brown politically active population currently disenfranchised from representation, D.C. statehood is a racial justice issue.
The District houses nearly 700,000 citizens, a larger population than states like Wyoming and Vermont. All D.C. residents pay federal taxes and fulfill all other obligations of American citizenship and yet are denied full representation in our Congress and full local self-government.
As Rep. Norton noted when introducing the bill, “The United States was founded on the principles of no taxation without representation and consent of the governed, but D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot vote on the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live.” Many believe that establishing The District as a state will abolish the permanent seat of the federal government. But H.R. 51 does not abolish the national capital — it only shrinks it, making a new state of the District’s non-federal area.
Last year, the Biden administration committed its “strong support” for H.R.51 in a statement of administration policy and President Biden has promised to sign it into law if passed by Congress. Ending the continued disenfranchisement of a non-minority Black jurisdiction that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans without representation in Congress must become a reality. Congress must take this opportunity to correct this injustice and pass D.C. Statehood in both the House and the Senate during the 118th Congress.
* Currently, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton serves as a delegate, a non-voting representative to the United States House of Representatives. In the 118th Congress, the House has six non-voting members: a delegate representing the District of Columbia, a resident commissioner representing Puerto Rico, as well as one delegate for American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Delegates can introduce legislation and vote in committee, but generally cannot vote the passage of legislation in the full House.
I have been a resident of Washington, DC and believe it is a travesty that its citizens do not have full representation in Congress. I am not sure statehood is the solution to the problem. I am more inclined to support the return of non-federal property to the jurisdiction of Maryland so the residents of DC are represented by Maryland’s senators and a representative.