Today, incoming Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) with Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would allow Washington D.C. full statehood, including full voter representation in Congress for its residents.
The New Columbia Admissions Act, S. 132, would pave the way for the potential creation of a 51st state, called New Columbia, with full voting rights in Congress. Under the bill, a federal district called Washington, D.C. -- encompassing the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court and the National Mall -- would still remain under the control of Congress, as the Constitution mandates. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced companion legislation in the House, H.R. 292, earlier this month.
"Washington, D.C. is not just a collection of government offices, monuments and museums; it is home to more than 600,000 people who work, study, raise families, and start businesses," said Sen. Carper. "These citizens serve in our military, fight in our wars, die for our country, and pay federal taxes. But when it comes to having a voice in Congress, suddenly these men and women do not count. The residents of Washington, D.C. bear all the responsibilities of citizenship, yet currently have no vote in either chamber of Congress. For decades, citizens and leaders, like Senators Joe Lieberman and Ted Kennedy, have proposed different solutions to the injustice imposed on District residents because they knew in their hearts -- as many of us do -- that the situation we have now and have tolerated for so long is not right. It is familiar, but it is not fair and not consistent with the values we all share as Americans. Just like the bill introduced earlier this year by my colleague Eleanor Holmes Norton in the House, this bill seeks to end a longstanding injustice and creates a path for District of Columbia citizens to vote to become the state of New Columbia with full voting rights in Congress. It is incumbent upon those of us who enjoy the right and the privilege of full voting rights to take up the cause of our fellow citizens here in the District of Columbia and find a solution. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this just bill."
"With the 57th Presidential Inauguration just days behind us, it might surprise some students of American history to know that it wasn't until the 1964 election that residents of the District of Columbia were finally able to cast a ballot for President and Vice President of the United States," said Sen. Durbin. "Unfortunately, the disenfranchisement of these citizens is not yet a relic of history. More than a half century later, Washingtonians are still denied full voting representation in Congress. Having first voted in favor of this legislation nearly two decades ago, I will continue to stand with the people of the District until they are granted the voting rights that they deserve, and I urge my colleagues to stand with us."
"We live in the only democracy in the world that denies voting representation to residents of its capital city," said Sen. Murray. "I am proud to join with Senators Carper, Boxer, and Durbin in co-sponsoring this long-overdue legislation," said Murray. "Residents of the District of Columbia have been denied their right to fully participate in our democracy for far too long, and this legislation would finally give them a voice."