Ahead of crucial hearing, national organizations throw support for DC statehood

Supporters of legislation to make D.C. the 51st state said that they are now getting backing from national organizations, and they believe they have strong political momentum heading toward a major congressional hearing later this month.

“In the last six months, we have built more momentum for D.C. statehood than at any point in our history,” said D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. She announced this week that 88 organizations have signed on to back her legislation.

“With the help of the organizations … we believe that victory for D.C. statehood is within our reach,” she said.

The groups include the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, the Sierra Club and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Along with the support of more than 200 lawmakers in the House, Norton said that her statehood bill is “fully ripe” for a hearing on July 24. That will be the first congressional hearing on a D.C. statehood bill in more than 25 years.

The hearing will be held by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is chaired by U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland.

At least 213 House members have signed onto Norton’s bill. Though the legislation does not have the support of Republicans, it could pass the House with 218 votes.

Norton still expects the legislation to come up for a vote on the House floor.

If Norton’s legislation passes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he has no intention to bring it up for a vote in the upper chamber.

But supporters of the legislation said that the statehood bill is still an important political step to get approved by the Democrat-controlled House, as they continue to try to get more of the country to become aware that residents of the nation’s capital do not have voting representation in Congress.

The last full House committee hearing on a D.C. statehood bill was held in 1993. It was defeated 277-153 on the House floor.

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Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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