A House committee voted Tuesday in favor of the much-anticipated D.C. statehood bill, paving the way for it to be sent to the House Floor.
The proposal was approved in a 21-16 party-line vote at the House Oversight Committee. It marked the first vote in Congress in almost three decades regarding the issue.
The legislation aims at making the District of Columbia the 51st state of the nation, thus giving congressional representation for over 700,000 residents of the city.
The approval had a particular importance for D.C.’s non-voting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, as she has been behind many proposals seeking statehood for the District since she took office in Congress in 1991.
“Our statehood bill is clearly constitutional. Congress has the authority to make Washington, Douglass Commonwealth a state,” Norton said at the hearing.
“For such a historic achievement for the District of Columbia, the only message I can convey is gratitude,” she told those present in the hearing room, thanking Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and more than 220 co-sponsors and Committee Members who supported the bill.
“Above all, thank you District residents for turning out in large numbers to once again demand equality in the Congress. We have only one last hill to climb in the House – onward to the House floor!” she continued.
The politician is already cooperating with more than 100 national organizations with records of getting bills passed in the Senate, according to a press release from her office.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform just passed our #DCstatehood bill.
For the first time since 1993, we are heading to the House floor!
It's time for #DCstatehood.
— Eleanor Holmes Norton (@EleanorNorton) February 11, 2020
“Today marks another historic day in our fight to become the 51st state,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in a statement upon the passage of the bill.
“We emphasized today what supporters of statehood already knew coming in: D.C. statehood is constitutional, we have a plan in place to make it happen, and it is the only way to fix the injustice of denying more than 700,000 Washingtonians a vote in Congress.”
👏🏾to all our @OversightDems
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) February 11, 2020
“Furthermore,” Bowser added, “the relentless and forced attacks on our D.C. values serve as an important reminder that statehood is not only about representation in Congress, it is also about self-government, autonomy, and defending the very principles our nation’s democracy was founded on. By focusing their attacks on our values, opponents of statehood have proven once again that they have no other case to make – constitutional or otherwise.”
The mayor also pointed out that the historic vote took place during Black History Month, saying “achieving D.C. statehood would be black history.”
The bill is likely to hit the House floor in a few months. If it passes, then it would need to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is known for being against the idea of granting statehood to the District.
Among the 2020 presidential candidates that support D.C. statehood are Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang and Bill De Blasio.