Along with the first of the co-sponsors she is gathering, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill, the New Columbia Admission Act, to make the District of Columbia the 51st state, providing the 618,000 D.C. residents full and equal citizenship. The bill, co-sponsored by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Madeline Bordallo (D-Guam), Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers (D-MI), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Sam Farr (D-CA), Michael Honda (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Charles Rangel (D-NY), and Bobby Rush (D-IL), would create a state from the District's eight hometown wards, but without jurisdiction over federal buildings and territory in Washington, D.C. The state of New Columbia would have two senators, and, initially, one member of the House. Norton is working with her Senate allies to get the bill introduced there, as it was in the 112th Congress by then-Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) before his retirement, along with three cosponsors, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Patty Murray (D-WA).
The New Columbia Admission Act was the first bill Norton introduced after she was first sworn in to Congress during the 103rd Congress, and it is her first bill in the 113th Congress. In 1993, she got the first and only vote on statehood for the District of Columbia, with 60 percent of Democrats and one Republican voting for the bill in the House, and a hearing on the New Columbia Admission Act in the Senate.
"To be content with less is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of our residents as citizens of the United States," Norton said in remarks introducing the bill. "It is too late for the residents of the District of Columbia to make such a concession as we approach the 212th year in our fight for equal treatment in our country."
Norton's full introductory statement follows.
Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on the Introduction of the New Columbia Admission Act
January 15, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the New Columbia Admission Act. The residents of our nation's capital are and always have been citizens of the United States. Yet they are the only taxpaying Americans who are not treated as full and equal citizens. The only way for them to obtain the citizenship rights they are entitled to is through the same statehood used by other Americans. Therefore, I am introducing the New Columbia Admission Act to create a state from essentially the eight home-town wards of the District of Columbia. This 51st state, however, would have no jurisdiction over the federal territory, or enclave that now consists of the Washington that members of Congress and visitors associate with the capital of our country. The U.S. Capitol premises, the principal federal monuments, federal buildings and grounds, the National Mall and other federal property here would remain under federal jurisdiction. Our bill provides that the State of New Columbia would be equal to the other fifty states in all respects. Consequently, residents of New Columbia would have all the rights of citizenship they are entitled to as taxpaying American citizens, including two senators and, initially, one House member.
Just as the New Columbia Admission Act was the first bill I introduced after I was first sworn in as a Member of Congress in the 102nd Congress in 1991, this is my first bill in the 113th Congress. Our first try for statehood received significant support in the House. In 1993, we got the first and only vote on statehood for the District, with nearly 60% of Democrats and one Republican voting for the New Columbia Admission Act. The Senate held a hearing on its companion bill, introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy, but the committee of jurisdiction did not proceed further. Although this start was encouraging, soon thereafter, the District, which is the only U.S. city that pays for state functions, found it necessary to ask the federal government to take over the costs of some state functions, posing fiscal barriers to entry into the Union on an equal basis, and in addition, the Democrats lost control of the House. The District of Columbia recognizes that it can enter the Union only on an equal basis and is prepared to do so. I then introduced the second best option available, a bill for Senate and House representation for D.C., and later, when Republicans controlled the House, a bill for a House vote. Because these bills had strong support from Democrats, I will introduce them again as well, but with the understanding that residents will never stop short of their full citizenship rights and, therefore, of statehood.
The final analysis is that we have no alternative. To be content with less than statehood is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of our residents as citizens of the United States. It is too late for the residents of the District of Columbia to make such a concession as we approach the 212th year in our fight for equal treatment in our country. This bill is the first I file in the 113th Congress, and it reaffirms our determination to obtain each and every right enjoyed by citizens of the United States by becoming the 51st State of the Union.