Per KRNV, House Democrats have slated a vote next week to make the District of Columbia the 51st state, an issue they say has become far more important in the aftermath of protests for racial justice across the nation
TheHill reports House Democratic leaders are racing ahead with legislation to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., scheduling a June 26 vote on the historic — and highly controversial — bill, which will arrive amid the heightened calls for black empowerment that have followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
In February, the House Oversight and Reform Committee had approved the proposal, marking the first time a D.C. statehood bill had won committee passage since 1993.
Democratic leaders are now seeking to tap into the undercurrent of national unrest that’s followed the death of Floyd — an unarmed African American man killed last month at the hands of Minneapolis police — to move the bill through the full House and pressure Senate Republicans to take it up.
The absence of voting power has long been an issue of contention for the residents of Washington, where the population outweighs that of several states but the one congressional representative lacks the authority to vote on the floor.
“What kind of a concept is that, that if I move to my nation’s capital I will be less of a citizen in America?” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) asked Tuesday during a press briefing in the Capitol.
The Democrats’ proposal, sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), would undo that disparity, making D.C. the 51st state in the union and empowering its nearly 700,000 residents with one vote in the House and two in the Senate.
Supporters of the change argue that D.C. residents pay taxes, fight in wars, are bound by federal statutes — and should therefore not be left powerless on Capitol Hill.
“This deprivation of statehood is unjust, unequal, undemocratic and unacceptable,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The statehood issue has gained prominence since Washington has emerged as an epicenter of the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. Tens of thousands of people have descended on the nation’s capital in recent weeks, many of them gathering around the White House to protest President Trump’s aggressive response, which initially featured the deployment of federal and National Guard troops around the District.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday that no state would tolerate such a militant federal response to peaceful protests — and Washington shouldn’t have to either.
“There shouldn’t be troops from other states in Washington, D.C. There shouldn’t be federal forces advancing against Americans. And there very definitely shouldn’t be soldiers stationed around our city waiting for the ‘go’ to attack Americans in a local policing matter,” Bowser said.
Norton’s bill is just one facet of the Democrats’ multi-pronged response to Floyd’s death, which features a series of long sought reforms designed to combat racial disparities across a swath of cultural sectors.
Most immediately, Democrats are seeking to move criminal justice reforms aimed at reining in racial profiling and police brutality, a package also scheduled for a floor vote next week.