House Democrats hold first hearing on the issue in 25 years; senior Capitol Hill producer Chad Pergram reports.
The bill, appropriately numbered HR51, is sponsored by Democratic D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and co-sponsored by 224 members of Congress. Hoyer said it will go to the floor June 26.
“We are the only nation – free nation – in the world whose capital does not have voting members of their parliament,” Hoyer said during a press conference.
Hoyer cited recent events connected to coronavirus and George Floyd protests as examples for why he believes D.C. statehood is necessary.
“If D.C. were a state it could not be shortchanged as it was under the CARES Act, and its residents would be protected from the kind of civil rights violations we saw in Lafayette Square all for the purpose of a photo op,” Hoyer said, referencing the CARES Act’s treatment of D.C. as a territory instead of a state, as well as a clash between protesters and officers involving pepper balls and smoke canisters.
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice also argued, in a New York Times op-ed, that had D.C. been a state, President Trump would not have been able to send federal officials in to handle protesters.
Holmes Norton said D.C. statehood is personal for her because “three generations of my family have yet to attain rights other Americans take for granted,” going back to her great-grandfather Richard Holmes who escaped slavery, leaving a Virginia plantation and making it to Washington, D.C.
“A walk to freedom, but not to equal citizenship,” she said.
Holmes Norton, who noted that her bill already has enough co-sponsors for it to pass, lamented that residents of D.C. pay higher federal taxes per capita than the rest of the country.
“Statehood will put an end to our oldest slogan: taxation without representation.”
The bill calls for Washington, D.C., to be known as the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who lived there in the late 19th century — not to be confused with Washington state in the Pacific Northwest.
President Trump, who only received 4 percent of the votes from D.C. in the 2016 general election, rejected the notion of statehood in May, noting the effect it would have on Congress. Washington, D.C., currently has a larger population than both Wyoming and Vermont.
“D.C. will never be a state,” Trump told The New York Post. “Why? So we can have two more Democratic … senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.”
In her current role as D.C.’s sole delegate, Holmes Norton is able to serve on committees, but she cannot participate in final votes on any legislation.
Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this report.