Democrats and Republicans sparred Monday over statehood for Washington, D.C., with proponents saying residents were due full voting rights and critics calling it a partisan power grab and arguing the city’s unique status raised constitutional hurdles.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on the H.R. 51 legislation that would give residents full representation in Congress, with two senators and one House member, rather than one nonvoting House delegate. Residents’ power in presidential elections would remain the same, with three electors.
The effort to make D.C. the 51st state has gained broad support in the Democratic Party, and has the backing of President Biden. The bill is expected to pass the House, but its future in the Senate—where 60 votes would be required for its passage and only 42 of the 50 Democratic senators currently are co-sponsors—is uncertain.
Democrats say that residents of Washington, D.C., nearly half of whom are Black, deserve the same representation as other Americans. Residents pay federal taxes, register for selective service and fight in the military, but they don’t have a full voice in Congress and local leadership can be overruled by the federal government.
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