“Congress can no longer exclude D.C. residents from the democratic process, forcing residents to watch from the sidelines as Congress votes on laws that affect the nation or votes even on the laws of the duly elected D.C. government,” Norton said in prepared opening remarks. “Democracy requires much more.”
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) announced last week that the full House would vote on the statehood bill the week of April 19.
Like last year, the bill is likely to face significant hurdles in the Senate, where the filibuster would require support from 60 senators to advance. Democrats hold 50 seats in that chamber, and Vice President Harris, a statehood supporter, can cast tiebreaking votes. But not all Democratic senators have expressed support for the legislation.
Still, advocates have pointed to a record-number of co-sponsors in both the Senate and the House as indicators of tremendous progress the statehood cause has made since it first failed in the House nearly 30 years ago.
On Wednesday morning, two more senators signed on as co-sponsors, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), bringing the total to 46.
Starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Oversight committee will mark up the bill and allow members to propose amendments. As they have in the past, Republicans are expected to put up a fight.
While Democrats have framed statehood as both a voting rights and racial justice issue in the plurality-Black city, Republicans have described it as a “Democratic power grab.”
The committee’s ranking member, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) argued during last month’s committee hearing that Democrats were pushing statehood as a way to advance liberal policies, since the District would almost certainly elect two Democrats to the Senate if it became a state.
Responding to those Republican arguments, Maloney said in prepared remarks Wednesday: “They would rather deny voting rights and self-government to more than 712,000 American than even consider the possibility that the two Senators from the new State could be Democrats. Think about this argument. They are willing to violate the core principles of our democracy merely because the new Senators might be from a different political party.”
A vote is expected Wednesday following the markup.