It’s Time to Pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act to Make the District of Columbia the 51st State

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A sign saying "Yes we can! DC Statehood Now!" hanging on a lamppost with traffic going by in the background.
A sign on a lamppost advocates for DC statehood. Photo by Jim West / Alamy Stock Photo.

Congress should pass H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, to make the District of Columbia the 51st state. Citizens of the District deserve the same rights and voice in government as the current 50 states.

With a population of 705,749 citizens, the District has a larger population than Vermont or Wyoming and a comparable population to South Dakota, North Dakota, and Alaska.

Citizens in the District serve in the U.S. military, pay more in federal taxes than 22 states, and more federal taxes per capita than any state. Yet, they do not have the voice in Congress as the other 50 states do.

The District of Columbia has a non-voting delegate who sits in the House of Representatives. This delegate can perform many of the functions of a representative, including introducing bills and offering amendments, but they cannot vote on bills that affect the citizens of the District or the nation as a whole.

For 219 years, the District’s citizens have lived in the United States as American citizens without equal representation or equal self-government. It is time to provide the District with a meaningful say in government and public policy based on the race, political affiliation, and socioeconomic status of its citizens.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton's bill, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act or H.R. 51, would give the same rights to the District’s citizens as other American citizens by allowing the District of Columbia to become the 51st state, giving the District two voting senators, one voting representative, and a full state government.  

H.R. 51 is not the first attempt to make the District the 51st state.

The District’s citizens have been advocating to become a state for decades. Rep. Norton has introduced legislation nearly every session for 30 years to make the District a state. 

Unlike past efforts, H.R. 51 has earned significant support in the House with over 200 co-sponsors, and in the Senate with over 30 co-sponsors. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has also co-sponsored and publicly endorsed the bill. H.R. 51 supporters and cosponsors expect the House to pass the bill and are encouraging the Senate to do the same.

Signing H.R. 51 into law would provide an opportunity to begin reversing centuries of disenfranchisement for the citizens of the District.

The District’s citizens deserve to be able to make their own governing choices like other American citizens.

Read CLC’s letter advocating for the passage of H.R. 51. 

Georgia is the 2020 CLC Communications Fellow