U.S. House approves D.C. statehood in historic vote

Washington D.C. on Friday took a step toward becoming the 51st state after the U.S. House approved its admission.

It marks the first time that a chamber of Congress has advanced a DC statehood bill and it comes four decades after a drive for DC to become a state was launched.

H.R. 51 was introduced last year by the non-voting delegate for Washington D.C., Eleanor Holmes Norton. Proponents of the bill say that because Washington's 700,000 residents - more than Vermont and Wyoming – have no voting representatives or senators, they have no voice in the federal government, despite paying federal taxes.

That status is protested with a slogan on DC’s license plates that says: "Taxation without representation."

And legislation passed by the district's local government is subject to congressional review.

Local anger over the district's status flared up most recently during the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in police custody.

Washington received $500 million dollars for its pandemic response, compared to the $1.2 billion the federal government accorded to each of the 50 states.

And amid the protests, Trump sent National Guard troops from 10 states, over the objection of the district's mayor, to quell protests against police brutality in the district.

Republicans fear creating a state out of the left-leaning district would give Democrats two more Senators in the chamber, making it more difficult for Republicans to win majorities in the Senate.

The bill faces strong opposition in the Republican-led Senate and with President Donald Trump. Trump has said he would veto the effort if it ever reached his desk.