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Momentum for DC Statehood Surges as HR 1 Passage 'Paves the Way' to End Disenfranchisement

Statehood legislation sponsor Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton calls Friday "history-making day"

D.C. statehood supporters march to the Lincoln Memorial for the rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013.

D.C. statehood supporters march to the Lincoln Memorial for the rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. (Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images)

Support for Washington, D.C. statehood appears to have reached a new high in Congress.

With Friday's passage in the House of H.R. 1, which endorses D.C. statehood, legislation that would end the district's 200 years of disenfranchisement is primed for consideration, says its sponsor.

Democratic non-voting Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced H.R. 51, the "Washington, D.C. Admission Act," in January. A hearing on the legislation, she said then, would "provide a prime opportunity to inform and remind Americans that over 700,000 of their fellow citizens who live in the nation's capital are denied their basic democratic rights." Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) has partner legislation pending in the Senate.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, who would become governor of the new state under H.R. 51, called Friday a "historic moment" in the movement towards statehood. She pointed to backing from the chambers' top Democrats; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that D.C. statehood was a "priority," and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Norton's legislation "a critical step in righting [a] historic wrong." To boot, the measure boasts 200 co-sponsors. 

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As such, declared Bowser, "Momentum for statehood is at an all-time high."

But challenges remain for D.C. statehood advocates. As the Associated Press noted,

Many Republicans have opposed statehood for D.C. because the area would likely elect only Democrats. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won 90 percent of the D.C. vote in 2016.

"History has been made," the pro-statehood group DC Vote said Friday. "With the passage of #HR1, #DCstatehood has been endorsed by the @USCongress for the first time. Today's vote paves the way for #HR51, the DC Statehood bill."

Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) pledged to hold a hearing on H.R. 51 this year.

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