Carper Reintroduces Statehood Bill to Ensure Full Representation for Over 700,000 D.C. Residents
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led a group of Democratic senators in introducing legislation that would grant Washington, D.C. full statehood, making it the 51st state and giving its citizens full representation in Congress. The Washington, D.C. Admission Act would also designate the areas surrounding the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the National Mall as the seat of the federal government. The area would inherit the name “District of Columbia” and remain under the control of Congress, as mandated by the Constitution.
In November 2016, District of Columbia residents voted overwhelming to petition the federal government to end this unjust situation by granting it statehood. The referendum also approved a name, constitution, and boundaries for what would become the new state called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth (D.C.)
Senator Carper first introduced a D.C. Statehood bill in 2013 and has re-introduced the bill in every Congress since. As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Carper also held the first hearing on D.C. statehood in decades. Joining Senator Carper as original cosponsors on the Washington, D.C. Admission Act are Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Mastro (D-Nev.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).
“Many of us will remember learning in grade school about the slogan ‘taxation without representation’ – the early colonists’ main grievance that led to the American Revolution and our country’s ultimate independence. Unfortunately, ‘taxation without representation’ is not just something students read about history books; it is the current reality for the over 700,000 people living in the District of Columbia,” said Senator Carper. “These men and women serve in our military, start families, own businesses and pay federal taxes just like their fellow Americans across the country, yet they currently lack full voting representation in either chamber of Congress. Lack of fair representation is inconsistent with the values we all share as Americans. It is incumbent upon those of us who enjoy the right and the privilege of full voting rights and representation in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives to take up the cause of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia and right this wrong. I would like to especially thank Rep. Norton, Mayor Bowser, the D.C. shadow delegation, and the advocate groups and citizens who have worked so hard to build support for this important cause. I’m also proud to be joined in this effort today by my colleagues who represent the communities that make up the greater Washington metropolitan area – Senators Warner, Kaine, Cardin and Van Hollen.”
“With the new House majority, we have already secured a historic number of cosponsors for D.C. statehood and the endorsement of Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). “Senator Carper’s bill is the critical counterpart to the House bill. Senator Carper got a record number of Senate cosponsors last Congress. The 700,000 federal taxpaying residents living in D.C. deserve equality and representation in their government and are grateful for Senator Carper’s continuous and vigorous support.”
“We are grateful to Senator Tom Carper for his tremendous leadership and for being our staunch ally in the Senate,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “With the introduction of this bill, dozens of U.S. senators recognize the injustice of denying 702,000 taxpaying Americans congressional voting representation. DC is not asking for a handout; we are demanding our fundamental rights as American citizens. I look forward to fighting alongside Congresswoman Norton and Senator Carper to continue building support in Congress for making DC the 51st state.”
The House companion bill (H.R. 51), now has a record number of cosponsors with 198 members supporting the bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has endorsed D.C. statehood, and House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has committed to holding a hearing and markup of H.R. 51 this year. The legislation was also incorporated into the For the People Act of 2019 (H.R.1) a major democracy reform package that advanced out of committee this week.