Carper Statement on Historic House Vote to Finally Give Washington, DC Statehood

The House vote comes as Carper’s Senate version of  DC statehood bill gains unprecedented support with 40 cosponsors   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), released the following statement following a vote in the House of Representatives on the companion bill of Senator Carper’s DC statehood legislation, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51), which was introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).  The bill passed the House by a vote of 232-180.

Over the past month, Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Gary Peters, (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) have all joined Senator Carper’s DC statehood bill as cosponsors. The bill, which Senator Carper first introduced in 2013, would make the nation’s capital the 51st state, give its citizens full representation in Congress, and ensure the District of Columbia has full authority over its police force. Specifically, the Washington, DC Admission Act (S.631) 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.

“Back in 2013, I was proud to join Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton in her fight to give Washington, DC full statehood, including full voting representation in Congress for the U.S. taxpayers living in our nation’s capital. Today, as the House carried out robust debate and voted to grant the District of Columbia statehood, I couldn’t be more proud of my friend and partner in this fight for seven years, Congresswoman Norton. It is because of her tireless work, commitment and leadership that the House held a vote to finally right this wrong, and I applaud her, as well as Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer, on this historic moment.

“Both Congresswoman Norton and I have always agreed that the issue of DC statehood is, at its most basic level, about fairness. Denying certain Americans full representation isn’t consistent with the values we will celebrate as a country next week on July 4th, and it isn’t consistent with the Golden Rule: to treat others the way we want to be treated. The city is not just a collection of government offices, monuments and museums; it is home to more than 700,000 U.S. taxpayers who work, study, raise families, start businesses and serve in our military. In fact, DC residents have fought in every single American war, yet have never been afforded the right to have their voices heard on those wars in Congress.  DC residents pay more in federal taxes per capita than citizens of any other state, yet they aren’t able to have a say in how those taxes are spent. So for years, Congresswoman Norton and I have reintroduced our DC Statehood bills in both chambers of Congress.

“But an event unfolded earlier this month that I believe made the issue of DC statehood one Congress could no longer ignore. The nation watched as federal agents and the U.S. military were deployed against Americans practicing their constitutional rights to peacefully protest in the District of Columbia. President Trump didn’t need approval to carry this action out because the District of Columbia is not a state. In the weeks that followed, my bill gained unprecedented support and Congresswoman Norton’s bill did, too. I am so proud that Senators Rosen, Stabenow, Peters, Tester and Cantwell have since joined my Senate bill to ensure DC has full authority over its police force and grant its residents equal representation in their government. For Americans who may still be unsure about whether or not the District of Columbia should be granted statehood, I urge you to think about it this way: think about paying taxes to the federal government and then not having a vote to help determine how that government functions. Imagine the military being sent to your communities to patrol your neighborhoods without approval from the leaders you elect to represent you. That is the current reality for our fellow Americans living in the District of Columbia – a majority of whom are people of color. And this reality flies the face of the most important tenets of our American democratic system.

“Today, we celebrate this historic vote that represents a momentous step forward. Tomorrow, our fight continues to move the needle in the Senate and garner the support we need to make DC statehood a reality. It is incumbent upon those of us who enjoy the right and the privilege of full voting rights to take up the cause of our fellow citizens here in the District of Columbia and push to right this wrong. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this bill and for Leader McConnell to let us vote on this basic issue of equality for all Americans.”