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The House of Representatives voted to make Washington, D.C. a state. Here's what that historic decision means

In a historic vote on June 26, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would approve statehood to Washington, D.C. It is the first time that a chamber of Congress has approved the idea of making the U.S. capital into the 51st state.

But what would that really mean?

For D.C. to actually gain statehood, the bill would have to pass in the Republican-led Senate and then be approved by President Trump—very unlikely, as many Republicans don't like the idea.

So we probably aren't going to be adding an extra star to our flag anytime soon.

Washington, D.C. is considered a federal territory in the United States, which means its more than 705,000 residents pay taxes, register for the draft and vote in elections.

But D.C. citizens, unlike the rest of the nation, aren't given any voting representation in the House or the Senate.

Every state is represented by two senators and at least one representative in Congress. These congressmen can vote on national issues, draft bills and fight for the changes their people want to see.

D.C. citizens are given one non-voting representative in the House.


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Many Republicans worry that giving D.C. citizens representation will mean two more Democrat-held seats in Congress, and some Republicans have suggested absorbing D.C. into the state of Maryland, a historically blue state, instead.

The debate over whether or not to grant D.C. statehood is supported in part because of the coronavirus pandemic. Because the capital isn't considered a state, it wasn't given as much money to help its economy after many citizens had to take breaks from work to stay home and stay safe.

The recent national protests against racial injustice also played a huge role in the House decision. As protests took place across the country after the death of Geroge Floyd, the mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, had limited say in the city's response since the federal government controls the city.

In a press conference after the House vote, Mayor Bowser said the decision could lay the groundwork for a statehood law in the future.

"I was born without representation," Bowser, a fifth-generation Washingtonian said at the press conference. "But I swear—I will not die without representation."


by Erin Sargent | 6/30/2020