DC statehood: GOP Reps argue capital wouldn’t qualify as congressional district despite population being greater than two states

Graig Graziosi
·2 min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers are pushing back against HR 51, a bill that would allow Washington DC to become the US's 51st state.

On Tuesday, US Rep. Nancy Mace argued against the bill, claiming that Washington DC would not meet the qualifications needed to even become a Congressional district, let alone a US state.

Critics were quick to point out that Washington DC is home to more people than two American states.

More people live in Washington DC - which currently has a population of more than 700,000 - than in the entire states of Wyoming and Vermont.

The district has more people living in it now than any other state at the time of its admission with the exception of Oklahoma.

Legislation to make Washington DC a state passed through the House and has received the endorsement of the Biden administration, but faces a tough battle in this week's upcoming Senate vote.

Democrats have long backed the movement for DC statehood, arguing that its population should not have to pay federal taxes without also having a voting member representing them in the Congress. Currently, DC has one non-voting representative in the House.

In addition to the voting issues, Democrats would also benefit from the inclusion of the heavily-liberal leaning Washington DC population, as it would add two seats to the Senate that would almost certainly be filled with Democrats.

Likewise, Republicans have consistently opposed statehood for the district, arguing it does not qualify and that it would defy the intentions of the US Constitution and the founding fathers. It would also make it more difficult for Republicans to achieve and maintain a majority in the Senate.

As a result, it is almost certain Republicans will use the Senate filibuster to ensure the Democrats cannot pass the Senate vote to allow Washington DC statehood. In order to defeat the filibuster, Democrats would have to convince 10 Republicans to flip sides and vote with them.

That task would be hard enough if the Democrats were all in support of the issue, but six Democrats - including Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema - have not co-sponsored the bill, and could vote against the measure.

If the bill were passed and signed into law, Washington DC would no longer be known as the "District of Columbia," but would instead be called the "Douglass Commonwealth," in honor of abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass.

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