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D.C. Delegate Wants Capitol Poplar Tree to Pitch for Statehood

WASHINGTON -- D.C.'s delegate to Congress is arguing that planting a seed for the District could give a boost to the drive for statehood.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) sent a letter to Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers asking that D.C. be added to the more than 30 state trees planted on Capitol grounds.

Norton said the planting is necessary "in recognition of the District of Columbia and the nearly 700,000 Americans who live here and have no voting representation in Congress."

"As you know, many members have successfully requested trees be planted on Capitol grounds in honor of their home states, and certain cultural events and significant historical figures have also been celebrated through commemorative trees," she wrote. "I now ask that the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital, be honored in this same way, with a species of poplar tree that is historically significant to this area."

Norton's office has communicated with the arborist at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate across the Potomac from D.C., and "they have agreed to donate a Tulip Poplar seedling that descends from one of the original Tulip Poplar trees that still grow there."

"This tree would have been a familiar sight to George Washington and other Founding Fathers in their lifetimes," she added. "I look forward to working with you to have the District of Columbia commemorative tree approved and planted soon, hopefully in the upcoming spring months."

Norton's legislation for D.C. statehood, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, states that the District "shall be admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the other states," with two senators and one House representative.

The new state would include "consist of all Washington, D.C., territory as of enactment of this bill, with specified exclusions for federal buildings and monuments."

All of the bill's 146 co-sponsors are Democrats.

“As I catch members in meetings and on the floor, they readily sign on our statehood bill,” Norton said last week. “I thank my colleagues for helping us build momentum, ensuring a lasting foundation even while Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House. My colleagues are helping us to be ready for when we get a congressional majority that will demand equality of citizenship, particularly for D.C. residents, who rank number one in federal taxes per capita paid to support our government.”

On Tuesday, Norton hosted a Capitol Hill briefing on statehood efforts with DC Vote and the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Although we recognize the political challenges we currently face, now is the time to build support in the city, the nation and in the Congress so we are prepared with ready-made support when the time is ripe," the delegate said. "With the House and Senate in play, DC Vote and the CBC see the urgency in getting ahead of events.”