The House of Representatives is set to vote Friday afternoon on a historic measure that would make the US capital its 51st state, granting residents the right to representation in Congress.
The measure is widely expected to clear the Democratic-controlled chamber, but Republicans have staunchly opposed it on partisan grounds, making its fate all but doomed in the Senate.
A previous statehood push in 1993 failed to clear the House.
Washington, D.C. residents currently lack voting representatives in either chamber of Congress, a fact they tout on their vehicle license plates, which read “Taxation Without Representation.” That would change under the House’s legislation, which would grant them two Senators and five seats in the House.
As with most large urban centers Washington, D.C. is overwhelmingly Democratic, and Republicans fear losing ground in the federal legislature should statehood be achieved.
The district has over 700,000 residents, giving it a larger population than Wyoming and and Vermont.
While the district has some measure of self-rule, electing a city council and mayor, any laws and budgets it passes are subject to Congressional approval, a fact that has led to several clashes since “home rule” was passed by the federal legislature in 1973.
Despite the fact that residents are denied fundamental democratic rights under the status quo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the statehood push last year as “full-bore socialism on the march in the House.”
“As long as I am the majority leader in the Senate none of that stuff is going anywhere,” he said during a Fox News interview in June 2019.
President Donald Trump similarly dismisses the effort to grant residents of the US capital democratic rights, because of its partisan makeup.
“DC will never be a state,” Trump said during an interview with the New York Post in May. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.”
But ahead of what is set to be a historic vote, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser thanked House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for scheduling the vote, which is slated to take place between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern time.
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