WASHINGTON – Four decades after launching its drive for U.S. statehood, Washington, D.C. was poised to take a step toward becoming the 51st state as the House of Representatives on Friday was expected to approve its admission.
Though the initiative was likely to pass handily in the House, where Democrats hold the majority, Republicans for years have actively opposed creating a state that they predict would elect Democrats to Congress.
Indeed, voters in the city of Washington have elected only Democratic mayors in recent history. Creating a state out of Washington would likely make it more difficult for Republicans to win majorities in the Senate.
Last month President Donald Trump, a Republican, told here the New York Post: “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more … Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.”
If it became a state, Washington would likely only have one lawmaker, not five.
Proponents say Washington’s 700,000 inhabitants – more than Vermont and Wyoming – have no voice in the federal government, despite paying federal taxes.
That status is protested with a slogan on Washington’s automobile license plates that screams: “Taxation without representation.”
The state would be named Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, after George Washington, the first U.S. president, and Frederick Douglass, a former enslaved person turned famed abolitionist.
It include the district’s current 700,000 residents, but not major federal buildings, the National Mall, memorials and the museums, which would be housed in a federal enclave.