DC statehood boasts record support in new Congress

The push for D.C. statehood has more support in Congress than ever before.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced her D.C. statehood bill, H.R. 51, to the 117th Congress with a record-high 202 original co-sponsors, Norton said Sunday.

“We are grateful to Congresswoman Norton for her steadfast leadership in continuing to grow support for H.R. 51 and ensuring statehood remains a top priority for the Congress,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement Sunday.

Norton gathered her previous record of 155 original co-sponsors for the bill in the 116th Congress, and in June, D.C. statehood passed in the House with a 232-180 vote. It was the first time either chamber of Congress passed the bill.

At the time, all but one House Democrat backed the initiative, and no Republicans voted in favor of the bill. H.R. 51 then moved to the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell never took up the measure.

The future of the bill in this legislative session could depend on upcoming runoffs in Georgia, which will decide the majority in the Senate. 

“We do not yet know what the final makeup of Congress will be. But no matter the circumstances, we will continue to make our case to the nation that statehood is the only way for our 706,000 taxpaying residents to gain full and equal citizenship,” Bowser said in her statement.

“We look forward to fighting alongside Congresswoman Norton, our allies in Congress, and our local statehood partners to right this historic injustice.”

Even if a Democratically-controlled Senate were to approve the D.C. statehood bill, it would likely still face significant legal challenges.

The 23rd Amendment would need to be repealed, and congressional Republicans have indicated they would challenge the legislation on legal grounds, which could end up before the Supreme Court. That could mean years of legal struggles, through Norton and supporters of the legislation believe it is on firm legal ground.

WTOP’s Mitchell Miller contributed to this report. 

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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