The District’s non-voting member of Congress introduced a bill on Tuesday to make the nation’s capital the 51st state, an act that’s essentially become tradition for the city’s “warrior on the Hill.”
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said the state of “New Columbia” would give the 618,000 residents of the city’s eight wards two senators and at least one House member to start, while setting aside an enclave of federal buildings and territory.
Mrs. Norton introduced a D.C. statehood bill as her first piece of legislation upon joining Congress in 1991, and has reintroduced the measure many times since then.
“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,” Ms. 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.”
The effort is part of ongoing efforts by city leaders to end the control exercised by lawmakers over the city’s affairs and finances.
In the spring, city voters will vote on a ballot question that gives the District “budget autonomy,” or the ability to set its own fiscal year and spend local funds without waiting on federal lawmakers to pass an appropriations bill in Congress. If passed, both chambers of Congress would have to actively disapprove of the voters’ will.
City lawmakers are also imploring President Obama to install D.C. license plates on the presidential limousine with the city’s “Taxation Without Representation” motto on them.
The issue of statehood has been met with criticism by members of the tea party and conservatives, who argue the Constitution grants Congress final say over the District and that the Founding Fathers envisioned a capital city that was insulated from the states.