House advances D.C. statehood bill in party-line vote

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For the second time in as many years, the Democratic-controlled House on Thursday approved statehood for the District of Columbia in a bill that will likely face strong Republican opposition in the 50-50 split Senate.

In a 216-208 party-line vote, the House passed H.R. 51 which seeks to carve out 2 square miles of the city’s land to serve as a federal district. It would include the White House, U.S. Capitol and National Mall. Six members didn’t vote.

The remaining 66 square miles of land would be established as the nation’s 51st state known as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, in honor of Frederick Douglass.

The new state would receive one voting representative in the House and two senators — which was a major point of contention among the lawmakers during the floor debate.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the city as a nonvoting House member, said Congress has both the moral obligation and constitutional authority to pass it.

“This country was founded on the principles of no taxation without representation and consent of the governed, but D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot consent to the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live,” Ms. Norton said.

Republicans argue the measure is not actually about voting representation, rather it is a power grab attempt by Democrats because the District is overwhelmingly Democratic.

“Let’s be clear about what H.R. 51 is all about: it’s about Democrats adding two new progressive senators championed by the squad into the radical, socialist utopia they always talk about,” said Rep. James Comer, Kentucky Republican.

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