“The Senate hearing shows that momentum continues to build for our D.C. statehood bill," the longtime D.C. The House delegate said in a statement, stating that this is only the second time the upper chamber has had a hearing on the issue.
"D.C. statehood now has 54 percent support nationwide, according to the most recent detailed poll, and I expect that support to grow even more after the Senate hearing, as it has after the House hearings,” Norton said.
The hearing will be carried by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
Norton is the city’s lone representation in the legislative body, and while she can sit on House committees, she can’t engage in floor votes. The bill is supported by President Biden and it has been passed by the House, most recently in April.
Republicans object to making D.C. a state and see the attempt as a power grab on the part of Democrats, who would almost surely gain two Democratic senators given the District's political leanings.
Advocates of statehood have long claimed it is racist for the city, which has historically been mostly Black, to not be a state and to have no voting representation in Congress. D.C.'s population is now just under 50 percent Black and it is majority-minority overall.
With no bipartisan support, the law can’t clear the 60-vote threshold of the Senate filibuster, an issue many of Democrats’ legislative priorities have. Furthermore, moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) are strongly against getting rid of the procedural rule. And Manchin has said that he doesn’t back the bill, claiming that a constitutional amendment is needed to make D.C. a state.
H.R. 51 takes another method to make the nation’s capital a state. The capital wouldn’t stop existing, but rather be withdrawn to include the National Mall, monuments, White House, and other federal buildings. The rest of the city would become the new state. The few people living inside the new federal capital would be able to vote in the state where they previously lived.
H.R. 51 also includes a proposal that would fast-track the repeal of the 23rd Amendment, which currently gives D.C. electoral votes in presidential elections.
Support for D.C. statehood grew last year, in part because the District’s shortcomings as a hybrid city-state have taken the nation’s attention many times within the past year.