masthead_37.jpg
Local NPR for the Cape, Coast & Islands 90.1 91.1 94.3
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

House Passes D.C. Statehood Bill — But The Senate Might Be Harder To Convince

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The House of Representatives has passed a bill to make the District of Columbia the nation's 51st state. Even so, it faces stiff opposition in the Senate. NPR's Barbara Sprunt reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: On this vote, the yeas are 216. The nays are 208.

BARBARA SPRUNT, BYLINE: With that, House Democrats passed a bill that would enfranchise over 712,000 Americans, a population larger than Wyoming and Vermont. The bill would reduce the size of the federal district and create a new state with the remaining territory with two senators and a representative. Advocates call the effort a racial justice issue as 46% of D.C.'s population is Black.

RAVI PERRY: The voices of the folks who live in the beacon of democracy that is the nation's capital don't have a voice.

SPRUNT: That's Ravi Perry, a board member at D.C. Vote. Ahead of the vote, Republican lawmakers linked statehood with a laundry list of progressive policies. Here's South Carolina Congresswoman Nancy Mace.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY MACE: This is about government-run health care, a 93 trillion Green New Deal, packing the Supreme Court, higher taxes and a bigger, less efficient form of government.

SPRUNT: Kentucky Republican James Comer called the bill a naked power grab by Democrats.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMES COMER: I wonder, listening to the debate, if our friends on the other side of the aisle would be so passionate if Washington, D.C., were 90% Republican as 90% Democrat.

SPRUNT: But Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin pushed back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMIE RASKIN: That cuts against everything that we believe in about American democracy. We do not deny people the right to vote based on our expectation of how they will vote.

SPRUNT: President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer support statehood, but it's unclear whether all Senate Democrats are on board. And that's not counting the at least 10 Republicans they need in order for the bill to advance. Barbara Sprunt, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF TREMOR'S "CARACOL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.