Sarbanes Votes for D.C. Statehood
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (H.R. 51), a bill to admit the State of Washington, D.C. into the Union and provide District of Columbia residents with full voting rights.
The State of Washington, D.C. would include most of the District of Columbia’s existing territory, except for a significantly reduced federal district controlled by Congress.
“One of the most galling examples of disenfranchisement in America can be found in our nation’s capital, where D.C. residents have been denied full voting rights and self-government for more than 219 years,” said Congressman Sarbanes, a vocal advocate for D.C. Statehood. “Today’s historic vote is a critical step forward in our effort to ensure that D.C. residents – more than 700,000 of our fellow citizens – have their voices heard in our democracy.”
Sarbanes, the author of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, continued: “As our first order of business last year, House Democrats introduced and passed H.R. 1 – a transformative anti-corruption and clean elections bill that also declared support for D.C. Statehood and demanded full citizenship rights for D.C. residents. H.R. 1’s passage marked the first time in history that a chamber of Congress endorsed D.C. statehood. And today, we followed through on that commitment by passing legislation to finally admit the State of Washington, D.C. into the Union.”
Congressman Sarbanes also delivered a floor speech in support of the bill. See below for the full remarks and a transcript.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
“Our colleague across the aisle a moment ago talked about the District of Columbia being special. There’s nothing special about being second class, which is what is happening to the residents of the District.
“For two centuries, the people of the District of Columbia have been disenfranchised, denied fair representation, excluded from our great democratic experiment.
“Over 700,000 residents who – just like my constituents and your constituents – work hard, pay their taxes and contribute every day to the betterment of our society. Yet, they do not have an equal voice in this chamber.
“It is time to remedy this great injustice.
“Eleanor Holmes Norton should have the same opportunity that every one of our Members does — to see her name on that board for every vote, to walk into the well and cast her yay or nay on behalf of the constituents she represents.
“Congresswoman Norton, we thank you for your service and for your tireless fight to bring dignity to the residents of Washington, D.C.
“House Democrats committed to this moment when this body passed H.R. 1 more than a year ago. We observed then – and we reiterate today – there are no constitutional, historical, financial or economic reasons why the 700,000 Americans who live in the District of Columbia should not be granted statehood. At a time when Americans of all political stripes are demanding a greater voice and participation in the political town square, the residents of D.C. are being forcibly kept out of the town square by this bizarre and indefensible anachronism.
“Today, we are declaring enough is enough. It is time to give a voice and a vote to the residents of the District of Columbia.
“I urge my colleagues to vote yes on H.R. 51. I yield back.”