House votes in favor of granting Washington, D.C., statehood

3 months ago 17
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June 26 (UPI) -- The House voted Friday in favor of a bill granting Washington, D.C., statehood, legislation that's not expected to gain traction in the Senate.

The lower chamber voted 232-180 in favor of statehood, largely along party lines. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota was the only Democrat to vote against the bill, along with Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who introduced the bill, praised its passage.

"We are buoyed by the priority the House gave D.C. statehood at a time when COVID-19 has meant that only essential bills are coming to the floor this year," she said. "We are undaunted by the lack of support in the Republican-controlled Senate, and the White House. We are certainly not discouraged by President [Donald]Trump's outspoken opposition to home rule and his attempts to control the District of Columbia and the city's police force in acts of brazen presidential irresponsibility."

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland declared the measure to recognize Washington, D.C., as a state "long overdue."

"We are going to pass a bill in the House of Representatives that says those who happen to live within these three-quarters and river are full citizens of America and should be accorded, therefore, the full rights of citizenship in our country," Hoyer said.

The measure would admit all land in the federal district, except for existing federal buildings and monuments, as a state and provide it with two U.S. senators and at least one House member with voting powers.

It would also rename Washington, D.C., to Washington, Douglass Commonwealth after Frederick Douglass.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost about $3 million over 10 years to pay for the new salaries needed in Congress.

Friday's vote marks the first time either chamber of Congress has approved a measure on statehood for Washington, D.C.

"We know that statehood is the only way to ensure that we have full representation, that we have votes here in the United States of America capital, but also to make sure that we're fully autonomous. And that is our birthright," Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

The vote comes amid an increased push for statehood after the Trump administration deployed federal law enforcement officers to disperse protesters from an area near St. John's Church, where the president was preparing for a photo opportunity earlier this month.

Supporters also have said the area was shortchanged for funding under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, under which it was treated as a territory rather than a state.

Despite strong support in the House and 40 co-sponsors in the Senate, the bill has received pushback from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Trump.

McConnell has objected the proposition of statehood for Washington, D.C., and has said he would not bring the measure up for a floor vote in the chamber.

A White House policy statement issued on Wednesday also stated that Trump's advisers would recommend that he veto a statehood bill if passed by Congress. The president told the New York Post that Republicans would be "very, very stupid" to allow Washington, D.C., to become a state.

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