The US House of Representatives narrowly approved making the District of Columbia the 51st state for the second time in less than a year on Thursday, sending it to the Senate, where it faces strong Republican resistance.
The Democratic-controlled House supported the proposal by a vote of 216-208, with no Republican support.
Washington, DC has a mostly Democratic population. As a territory, it is likely to elect two Democratic senators, theoretically altering the Senate’s power balance, which currently has 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.
Democrats, who have long advocated for statehood for the nation’s capital, intend to leverage last November’s election of President Joe Biden, as well as dominance of the Senate and House, to admit a new state for the first time since 1959, when Alaska and Hawaii entered the union.
Democrats proposed that statehood will correct a centuries-old injustice of “more than 700,000 Americans citizens who pay federal taxes, who fight and die in wars, who serve on our juries and yet have no vote in the Senate or the House of Representatives,” according to Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky. “That is the definition of taxation without representation.”
The new state will be called “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth” after George Washington, the first president of the United States, and Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became a well-known abolitionist.