U.S. House on verge of approving Washington, D.C., statehood
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[June 26, 2020]
By Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four decades after
launching its drive for U.S. statehood, Washington, D.C. was poised to
take a step toward becoming the 51st state as the House of
Representatives on Friday was expected to approve its admission.
Though the initiative was likely to pass handily in the House, where
Democrats hold the majority, Republicans for years have actively opposed
creating a state that they predict would elect Democrats to Congress.
Indeed, voters in the city of Washington have elected only Democratic
mayors in recent history. Creating a state out of Washington would
likely make it more difficult for Republicans to win majorities in the
Last month President Donald Trump, a Republican, told the New York
Post: "You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two
more ... Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you.
That'll never happen."
If it became a state, Washington would likely only have one lawmaker,
Proponents say Washington's 700,000 inhabitants - more than Vermont and
Wyoming - have no voice in the federal government, despite paying
That status is protested with a slogan on Washington's automobile
license plates that screams: "Taxation without representation."
Currently, legislation passed by the district's local government is
subject to congressional review.
Local anger over the district's status flared up most recently during
the coronavirus pandemic. Washington received $500 million for its
pandemic response, compared to the $1.2 billion the federal government
accorded to each of the 50 states.
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Soldiers are seen at the Washington Monument ahead of a protest
against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in
Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S. June
6, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Amid nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an
African American man who died after a police officer kneeled against
Floyd's neck, Trump sent National Guard troops from 10 states, over
the objection of the district's mayor, to quell protests against
racism and police brutality in the district.
"Not only do we not have voting senators and our congresswoman not
have the right to vote, the whims of a federal government can
encroach on our even limited autonomy," said Mayor Muriel Bowser at
a press conference.
The state would be named Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, after
George Washington, the first U.S. president, and Frederick Douglass,
a former enslaved person turned famed abolitionist.
It would include the district's current 700,000 residents, but not
major federal buildings, the National Mall, memorials and the
museums, which would be housed in a federal enclave.
The last time the United States expanded was 1959, when Congress
approved admitting Alaska and Hawaii as the 49th and 50th states,
respectively, following congressional votes and the support of the
The U.S. constitution gives Congress the power to admit new states
without specifying a process.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Richard Cowan and Tom Brown)
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