Norton continues quest to make D.C. 51st state



Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has reintroduced legislation for DC Statehood, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51). Norton has introduced similar bills in every Congress for years, but this time, the measure has new momentum.

Norton introduced H.R. 51 on January 3rd with a record 155 original cosponsors. “That is already higher than the number of Democrats who voted for the statehood bill when I secured the first-ever House floor vote on the bill in 1993, and the highest number of original cosponsors of any other bill introduced either in the House or Senate on the first day of the 116th Congress,” she said in a press conference after the bill’s introduction. It is also the most members to ever support DC Statehood.

Furthermore, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has committed to holding a hearing and markup on H.R. 51 this year.  The House hasn’t held a hearing or markup on D.C. statehood since 1993, though a Senate committee held one in 2014.

And the legislation has other champions. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has joined Congresswoman Norton recently in making strong public statements in support of the bill to make the District of Columbia the 51st state.

“For too long, the residents of the District of Columbia have served our nation in uniform, paid taxes and contributed to the economic power and success of our country while being denied the full enfranchisement that is their right…,” said Pelosi. “H.R. 51, The Washington, D.C. Admission Act, is a critical step in righting this historic wrong.”

Pelosi’s endorsement, says Norton is “the most important step yet in getting a House floor vote on the statehood bill.” Still, the Republican-controlled Senate is not likely to take up the measure. 

Norton’s bill would create a state from the eight hometown wards of the District.  The 51st state would have no jurisdiction over federal territory.  The U.S. Capitol premises, the principal federal monuments, federal buildings and grounds, the National Mall and other federal property in the District would remain under federal jurisdiction. 

Norton’s bill provides that the State of Washington, D.C. would be equal to the other 50 states in all respects, and the residents of the state of Washington, D.C. would have all the rights of citizenship as taxpaying American citizens, including two senators and, initially, one House member.