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Carper Leads Senate Reintroduction of Bill to Grant Statehood to the District of Columbia

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), today led a group of Senate Democrats in reintroducing his legislation to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state. The bill would give Washington D.C. citizens full representation in Congress.

The Washington, D.C. Admission Act (S.51) would ensure that the citizens and elected leaders of the District of Columbia have full authority over local affairs, including the selection of judges to fill vacancies on state courts. The legislation would designate the areas surrounding the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the National Mall as the seat of the federal government. That area would inherit the name the “Capital” and remain under the control of Congress, as mandated by the Constitution.

“We have been taught that when our founders built a new nation they cried ‘no taxation without representation’ — a slogan that has stood the test of time. Unfortunately, ‘taxation without representation’ is the current reality for nearly 700,000 citizens living in the District of Columbia,” said Senator Carper. “These citizens do not have a voting representative in either chamber of Congress. They pay more federal taxes per capita than citizens of any of the 50 states but have no say in how those taxes are actually spent. They serve in the military and can be sent to battle in a war that they had no say in fighting. This is wrong and not consistent with the values that we hold dear as Americans. This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue — it’s an issue of fairness. I am proud to once again partner with Congresswoman Norton on this important issue and look forward to the work ahead to make D.C. Statehood a reality.”

"The single idea of 'taxation without representation' that gave rise to the American Revolution still resonates today," Congresswoman Norton said. "D.C. residents pay the highest federal taxes per capita and more federal taxes than 23 states, and the District has a bond rating higher than 35 states. They've fought and died in every war since the Revolution, and they deserve voting representation in Congress and full local self-government. Thank you to Senator Carper, our longtime ally, for leading the charge in the Senate."

“It is a national scandal that the people who live in the capital of the oldest democracy in the world have fewer political rights than those who live outside it. Simply put, denying the people of the District of Columbia the same rights to voting representation in the House and Senate enjoyed by other citizens is undemocratic. It’s time to grant the District statehood, end taxation without representation, and deliver equality and fairness to its residents,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“The disenfranchisement of 700,000 American citizens living in Washington, DC is a 220-year-old wrong that we have a responsibility to fix,” said Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “This year will mark 50 years since the passage of Home Rule. We are proud and grateful for those who came before us to secure Home Rule, but Home Rule is not the end goal – full access to our nation’s democracy is. Full access means autonomy, it means two senators, and it means being admitted as the 51st state. As we work towards that goal, we’re grateful for Congresswoman Norton’s unrelenting commitment to DC residents and for our allies in the Senate, like Senator Carper and Senator Van Hollen.”

Last year, the companion bill to Senator Carper’s legislation, introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), received a full vote in the House and passed by a vote of 216-208. District of Columbia residents have also voted overwhelmingly to petition the federal government to end this unjust situation by granting it statehood. A November 2016 referendum approved a name, constitution, and boundaries for what would become the new state called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth (D.C.)

Senator Carper first introduced legislation to grant D.C. statehood in 2013 and has introduced the legislation in every Congress since. In September of 2014, as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Carper held the first hearing on D.C. statehood in decades. And last Congress, in June of 2021, Carper joined HSGAC Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in leading a full committee hearing on the issue of statehood for the District of Columbia.

Joining Senator Carper as original cosponsors on the Washington, D.C. Admission Act are Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.M.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).