Graphic shows main points of the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, H.R. 51.
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POLITICS

Washington D.C. statehood vote

By Duncan Mil

June 26, 2020 - Democrats in the House of Representatives approved a bill to admit Washington DC as a state on Friday (June 26) with a vote of 232-180.

The “Washington DC Admission Act” would make the United States’ capital the 51st state, granting voting representation in the House and Senate to its more than 705,700 residents.

The House vote on the bill, HR 51, is merely symbolic since the law would face insurmountable opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate. President Trump has vowed to veto any DC statehood legislation.

Trump told the New York Post in an interview last month that “DC will never be a state. Why? So we can have two more Democratic -- Democrat -- senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.”

America’s Constitution spells out that the federal capital is under the exclusive authority of Congress. The seat of Government is a “neutral district” in which representatives of all the states can meet on an equal footing.

Members of Congress have filed DC statehood bills before, most recently legislation by non-voting DC delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton in 1993, also, numbered HR 51. Entitled the “New Columbia Admission Act,” it failed with a House vote of 153-277.

Norton’s latest bill carves out specific space for a capital district of government buildings surrounding the national mall and White House under federal government control.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser would take the title of “governor,” and the district council would function as the legislative body.

The 51st state to the US would change “District of Columbia” to “Douglass Commonwealth,” maintaining the “DC” abbreviation while paying homage to African-American Frederick Douglass. After escaping from slavery in Maryland in 1838, Douglass became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York.

Mayor Bowser had complained that Congress classified DC as a territory rather than a state in the CARES Act stimulus package. This distinction cost Washington more than $700 million in federal coronavirus relief funding.

PUBLISHED: 26/06/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Associated Press
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