U.S. House Passes Historic Bill to Grant D.C. Statehood

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For Immediate Release

Contact:
Josh Burch, unitedforstatehood@gmail.com, (202) 641-4680

U.S. House Passes Historic Bill to Grant D.C. Statehood
Rhode Island senators have yet to co-sponsor Senate bill 

WASHINGTON (June 26, 2020) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Washington, D.C. Admissions Act (H.R. 51), which would grant the people of D.C. full voting rights and representation in Congress. Both of Rhode Island’s representatives, David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, voted for the bill. But Rhode Island’s senators, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, have yet to co-sponsor the Senate companion legislation, S. 631.

S. 631 has gained momentum in the past few weeks, as the Trump Administration ordered in troops and helicopters to intimidate D.C. residents, including the use of tear gas to clear a peaceful protest so President Trump could take a photo in front of a church. Additional focus has also come onto how denying a plurality Black jurisdiction full voting rights is a racial justice issue. In the past month, Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) became co-sponsors of the legislation. 41 of the 47 senators in the Democratic caucus have now signed onto the bill, but Senator Reed and Whitehouse have not. 

“For far too long, over 700,000 Americans have been denied full voting rights and representation in Congress,” said Josh Burch, a D.C. resident and volunteer organizer of United for D.C. Statehood. “It is time for Senators Reed and Whitehouse to stand up for democracy and support D.C. statehood.” 

Prior to the Trump Administration militarizing the nation’s capital, African-Americans there were already suffering disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of those infected in D.C. are people of color, and 75% of those who have died are African-American. 

Tragically, Washington, D.C. may be experiencing higher fatality rates because D.C. received less than half the COVID-19 funding that Americans living in the 50 states did, due to its lack of statehood.

As D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wrote in The Washington Post last week, “It is no coincidence that Washington— affectionately known as Chocolate City — is also the only capital of a democratic nation that denies its residents a vote in the federal legislature. To think these two truths are not related is to be willfully ignorant of our nation’s history.” Along these lines, Susan Rice wrote in The New York Times, “The real reasons for opposition are more sinister: racism and political interest. Washington was long predominantly black, and efforts to deny its citizens their civil rights date back to Reconstruction.”

The 705,000 D.C. residents pay more than $26 billion in federal taxes, more than 22 states. It’s past time to give the people of D.C. fair and equal treatment in our democracy. 

Representatives David Cicilline and Jim Langevin deserve credit for backing D.C. statehood. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse should stand up for racial justice and against the violent overreach by the Trump Administration and co-sponsor the Washington, D.C. Admissions Act (S. 631).

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