WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday morning to turn Washington, D.C. into a new state.
H.R. 51 passed in the House by a party-line vote of 216-208, and now it all hinges on the fate of the Senate filibuster.
Turning Washington, D.C. into the nation's 51st state has been a top legislative priority for Democrats because it would mean two new Democratic senators in the Senate. That's why critics warn it will create "The Democrat Capital of the United States".
Lifelong D.C. resident Josh Burch of Neighbors United for D.C. Statehood said, "We're Americans. If, if we fulfill all the obligations of citizenship we should be treated equally, and that's what statehood does."
The White House threw its full support behind H.R. 51 this week. Even the Office of Management and Budget issued a statement saying Congress should "provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood."
The same bill passed the House last year but fell flat in the Republican-controlled Senate. Even with Democrats now in charge of every branch of government, the same outcome seems likely unless Democrats decide to destroy the Senate's 60-vote filibuster rule.
Zack Smith, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said, "And so I think you're going to hear a lot of talk within the next several weeks about whether or not the Democratic members have the votes to pass this bill and if they can get to 50 votes whether they will be willing or able to alter or abolish the filibuster in order to pass this legislation."
Zack Smith testified in last month's hearing. He tells CBN News there's a constitutional reason the nation's capital is not a state.
"The framers envisioned that the seat of the federal government would be independent from any state and there were really two reasons behind that. They wanted to ensure that the federal government can have physical control over the capital, sufficiently to secure the officials who work there, the buildings that are there to house government operations and they also wanted to make sure that no one state had an outsized influence on the operations of the federal government," he explained.
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Republicans see the effort as a power grab.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said, "It's unconstitutional, is no different than packing the Supreme Court. The only reason the Democrats are doing it is trying to get more electoral votes and more senators, and why they're doing it when they are because they know they're going to lose the majority. It was never created or should be a state. If there's anything it should do it should go back to Maryland."
Since D.C. consistently supports the Democratic nominee for president, statehood would tilt the balance of power in the Senate to Democrats.
So much hinges on the Senate filibuster – for this bill and others. Right now though, not enough senators support getting rid of it – so 60 votes it is.
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