Biden Administration Backs Bill to Make DC the 51st State Residents of the District of Columbia rally for statehood near the U.S. Capitol on March 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Tuesday, 20 April 2021 12:12 PM
The Biden administration said Tuesday morning it "strongly supports Washington D.C. becoming the 51st state," firmly backing the controversial legislation that seeks statehood for the overwhelmingly liberal district.
In a statement, the White House unequivocally offered its endorsement of H.R. 51, the Washington D.C. Admissions Act.
"For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress," the statement said. "This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded."
Under the House bill, Washington D.C. would become a state and the federal government would maintain a district within that state as the seat of government in the nation.
The Biden administration said establishing the "State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just."
The House Oversight and Reform Committee passed the bill April 14 in a 25-19 party-line vote, and is is set for a full floor vote this week — and with 215 co-sponsors, it’s likely to pass the House, even with all Republicans voting against it.
D.C. currently doesn’t have full representation on Capitol Hill and Congress can also vote to overrule laws passed by the D.C. Council.
D.C. residents overwhelmingly voted for statehood in 2016.
"As American citizens, D.C. residents are entitled to equal citizenship, but they have also earned it,'' D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, said at the bill’s committee passage.
''They have fought in every American war, including the war that led to the creation of the nation, the Revolutionary War. D.C. service members have helped get voting rights for people throughout the world yet have always been denied those same rights when they returned home.''
The Constitution, however, explicitly sets the nation's capital as a neutral "district" that is not a portion of any other state or treated as a state itself.
During the committee hearing, ranking member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., called the bill an unconstitutional power grab by liberals in a bid to create a ''socialist utopia.''
"If my Democrat colleagues want D.C. to become a state, the cleanest and fastest way for that to happen, is to repeal the 23rd Amendment before consideration of this bill," he said. "But that’s not good enough for the progressives. That’s not good enough for The Squad. That’s not good enough for the liberal left. This bill is part of their no-holds-barred plan to reshape the American landscape to one of higher taxes and daily government intrusion into the lives of Americans.''
Former President Donald Trump has said D.C. statehood will never happen ''unless we have some very, very stupid Republicans'' since admitting the district would essentially guarantee ''two automatic Democrat'' seats in the Senate.