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Mr. Brown, the at-large council member, said people flocked to the District to support the seat of government but then it grew into a thriving network of communities, schools and hospitals.

“No one anticipated they would lay roots there,” he said.

Those transplants continue to flock to the District today. Council member Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democrat, noted he grew up in California but has called the District home for about 30 years.

Mr. Catania provided candid remarks on the city’s haves and haves-nots, after Republican Rep. Frank McCarthy noted that paying the “highest income tax per capita” just means residents are making more money.

Mr. Catania said, yes, the city is well-educated and many residents are successful, but there is a vast disparity in income across the city that oftens falls along racial lines.

“We’re asking for something we’re entitled to by birth,” Mr. Catania said of statehood. “Bring us in the bandwidth. We’re not asking for anything more or anything less.”

Residents like Mr. Tillery have been waiting a long time to feel like a full member of the country he, quite literally, has fought for. He said his city’s request for help makes him feel like his city is a third-world nation that relies on benefactors for its needs.