With Joe Biden as president and with the Democrats in control of Congress, talk of Washington D.C. statehood is back on.
Last week, the Biden administration confirmed that it is indeed in favor of making Washington D.C. America’s 51st state.
During a recent press briefing, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki whether Biden supports D.C. statehood. Psaki responded that Biden does, but she did not go into any specifics.
“The President has supported DC statehood in the past,” Psaki said. “That certainly remains his position, but I don’t have any information for you on any timeline.”
As Psaki noted, Biden has been in favor of D.C. statehood, which is something that he did make known while campaigning for president.
“I have supported statehood for 36 years,” Biden said on one occasion. “D.C. should be a state. Pass it on,” he said on another.
It’s a go
What the Biden administration did here was to give the signal to D.C. statehood activists that his administration will be supportive of any efforts in that direction.
Among those making the push for D.C. statehood is D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). Bowser recently predicted that in the near future the Democrat-led Congress will vote in favor of D.C. becoming a state.
“It is going to be reintroduced in the Senate in a couple of weeks, and we expect to have a favorable vote in the Senate as well and then it goes to the president of the United States,” Bowser said. “We have made a big focus to President Biden to support D.C. statehood and make it part of his 100-day agenda.”
The last attempt to make D.C. a state came during the summer of 2020. It passed the Democrat-led House but was dead upon arrival in the Senate. Before that, the most recent attempt occurred in the early 1990s.
The argument for D.C. statehood is, more or less, that the district’s more than 700,000 residents pay taxes and thus ought to have representation in the government. D.C. currently has one non-floor voting delegate in the House and no Senate representation. If it were to become a state, it would get 2 senators and a handful of representatives.
Opponents of D.C. statehood argue that this would give D.C. an unfair amount of influence in the federal government. They also argue that, since D.C. is established by the Constitution, it would take a constitutional amendment, not a simple congressional vote, to turn D.C. into a state.