Tags: senate | dc | 51st | state

Senate Democrats Spring Bill to make Washington DC the 51st State

Thursday, 20 Dec 2012 04:13 PM

By Michael Mullins

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With just two weeks remaining in the 112th Congress, several Democratic senators introduced a bill on Wednesday that would let voters in the capital decide on making the District of Columbia the nation's 51st state.

The sponsors of the controversial proposal include Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patty Murray of Washington state, and Barbara Boxer of California. Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut, joined them.

"It is long past time to give those American citizens who have chosen the District of Columbia as their home the voice they deserve in our democracy," said Lieberman in a joint release with the bill's sponsors.

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"The United States is the only democracy in the world that denies voting representation to the people who live in its capital city. As I retire from the Senate after having had the great privilege of serving here for 24 years, securing full voting rights for the 600,000 disenfranchised people who live in the District is unfinished business, not just for me, but for the United States of America," added the outgoing senator.

Known as the "New Columbia Admissions Act," the move is the first D.C. statehood bill to be introduced in the upper house since 1993, according to a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee release.

The bill, which is viewed by many as a symbolic gesture, is highly unlikely to pass, despite receiving support from many of the left. The district is a Democratic Party stronghold and, if allowed to become a state, most likely would add two more Democrats to the Senate, which already has a Democratic majority.

The bill accompanies a House version filed by District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., on Jan. 12, 2011.

When asked by the Washington Post if the 113th Congress would commit to reintroducing the bill next year, a spokeswoman for Durbin, the Senate majority whip, said "Senator Durbin has supported statehood for Washington, D.C. for over 20 years . . . He will support this bill’s introduction next Congress."

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