U.S. House Majority Leader and Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer penned a Washington Post op-ed announcing his support for the statehood of Washington, D.C., changing his previous position on the issue.
In Thursday’s article entitled “I was hesitant about D.C. statehood. Now I believe it’s the only path forward,” Hoyer highlighted the fundamental right of every American citizen to cast a vote and have it equally counted.
“Our founders, who prescribed the creation of a national capital not within the jurisdiction of any individual state, never intended for those living in it to be denied representation,” he wrote, adding that the D.C. population of over 700,000 people have been denied that equal right for 228 years.
“I have been hesitant in past years to call for statehood for the District because I believed that we could achieve voting rights for its residents without having to take the politically difficult steps statehood would entail. That’s what I tried to do in 2010 by pursuing a deal on legislation proposed years earlier by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) to give House representation to the District and an additional House seat to Utah. Sadly, that effort to achieve a compromise fell short,” Hoyer said.
He made it clear that he eventually concluded the only way to provide permanent congressional representation for D.C. residents was statehood, since any such legislation could be reversed and would be temporary.
Also mentioning the bill introduced in January by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton that aims at granting D.C. statehood, Hoyer announced his decision to co-sponsor it. The bill had received 155 original co-sponsors, which was a new record, up from 116 co-sponsors for Norton’s previous bill. She is known for having introduced a D.C. statehood bill every term since becoming a delegate to the U.S. House in 1991.
Hoyer’s support came as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is preparing for a hearing on the bill scheduled for July 24.
Hoyer’s move got many positive responses on Twitter, both from D.C. residents and politicians.
I applaud Hoyer for taking this stance! D.C. statehood is something I've supported since the beginning of my campaign.
I must say, though, it took him 38 years in office to do it. What changed in the past couple months? 👀☕️ https://t.co/BubjZqqGEW
— Mckayla Wilkes for Congress (@MeetMckayla) May 30, 2019
Steny Hoyer: I believe D.C. statehood is the path forward – The Washington Post This is an issue that is so long overdue. It’s an equality issue, denied statehood for the past half century due to the colour of its majority population. It’s a racism issue. https://t.co/1mbOXQ0LXY
— valeriestone (@valeriestone) May 31, 2019
Fight for D.C. statehood gets new push from Democrats https://t.co/eApSwCpSoK
— MattR2R (@MattR2R) May 31, 2019