WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four decades after it launched its campaign to become a U.S. state, Washington, DC, was on the verge of taking a step towards the 51st state as the House of Representatives approved its admission on Friday.
The initiative was adopted in the House under democratic control by a vote of 232-180, without any Republican supporting it.
The Republican-controlled Senate should not review the legislation, and Republican President Donald Trump has publicly opposed the move, noting that the creation of a state would elect more Democrats to Congress.
In fact, the voters of the city of Washington elected only democratic mayors. The creation of a state from Washington would likely make it more difficult for Republicans to win a majority in the Senate.
On the floor of the House before the vote, Republican lawmakers argued that transforming the district into a state was a political ploy of the Democrats and would require an amendment to the United States Constitution. Some also said that Washington was not equipped to be a state and should be absorbed by Maryland.
Supporters say that the 700,000 residents of Washington – more than Vermont and Wyoming – have no voice in the federal government, despite paying federal taxes.
This statute is protested by a slogan on the Washington automobile license plates which shouts: “Taxation without representation”.
Currently, legislation passed by the local district government is subject to congressional review.
“Congress has two choices: it can continue to exercise anti-democratic and autocratic authority over the 705,000 American citizens who reside in the capital of our nation … or Congress can live up to the promise and ideals of his nation, “said Washington Congressman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Norton is unable to vote on a law.
Local anger over the district’s status exploded recently during the coronavirus pandemic. Washington received $ 500 million for its response to the pandemic, compared to the $ 1.2 billion the federal government provided to each of the 50 states.
In the midst of nationwide protests triggered by the murder of George Floyd, an African American man who died after a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck, Trump sent National Guard troops into the district, following the objection of the district mayor, to quell protests against racism and police brutality.
The state would be named Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named after George Washington, the first American president, and Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became famous abolitionist.
It would include district residents, but not the main federal buildings, the National Mall, memorials and museums, which would be housed in a federal enclave.
The last time the United States developed was in 1959, when Congress approved the admission of Alaska and Hawaii as the 49th and 50th states, respectively, following the votes of the Congress and President’s support.
The US Constitution gives Congress the power to admit new states without specifying a process.
Washington, nicknamed “Chocolate City” by the funk Parliament group, has been recorded as a predominantly black city since the 1960 census. Black Americans now represent 46% of the district’s population, the same percentage of white Americans.