D.C.’s delegate to Congress today introduced a bill to make the district the country’s 51st state: New Columbia.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-D.C.) bill 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’s New Columbia Admission Act got 28 Democratic co-sponsors, but never made it out of committee. The companion Senate bill was introduced by newly retired Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). and co-sponsored by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), but likewise didn’t gain traction.
Norton is now “working with her Senate allies” to get help on the bill’s latest incarnation. The bill goes all the way back to the 103rd Congress, when it was the first bill introduced by a newly elected Norton.
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.
“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,” Norton said on the House floor today.
“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,” she said.
Opposition to D.C. statehood was added to the GOP platform at the Republican National Convention. The admission of New Columbia would almost ensure two new Democrats in the upper chamber and one in the lower chamber with full voting rights.
The bill’s co-sponsors are Rep.s Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Madeline Bordallo (D-Guam), Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Michael Honda (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).