Washington DC faces House vote to become the 51st state
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats who control the house have scheduled a vote next week to make the District of Columbia the 51st state. An issue that they say has become much more important after protests for racial justice in Washington and across the country.
If the vote was successful next Friday, it would pass a state equality law for the first time in the House of Representatives, but the legislation meets with insurmountable resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate. It even happens because the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the review of most other laws. More than enough legislators officially support the bill so that it can be passed. In 1993, the democratically controlled Congress defeated a gender equality bill by almost 2: 1.
But the government's much-criticized move to deploy federal forces to clear peaceful White Demonstrators near Lafayette Square near the White House, so President Donald Trump could trumpet his laws and ID cards in a photo two weeks ago, prompted the democratic leaders to plan the vote. "We both agreed that this was an appropriate time to submit a bill to show respect for District of Columbia citizens," said majority leader Steny Hoyer.
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"There should be no troops from other states in Washington," said Mayor Muriel Bowser, who handed Hoyer a 51-star US flag on Tuesday. "There should be no federal forces advancing against Americans, and there should be no soldiers stationed in our city waiting to attack Americans in a local police case."
Many of the District of Columbia are African American and the city is largely democratic. Trump said last month that “D.C. will never be a state "because it would probably mean two more democratic senators." No thanks. That will never happen, "he told the New York Post.
But Hoyer said DC residents' rights should go beyond political calculations.
“This is not about politics. If so, we are degrading our democracy, ”he said. "This is about who we are as a country."
Bowser pointed out that DC taxpayers will not receive voting representatives in Congress, even though they contribute more to federal taxes per person than many other states. The country's capital, with just over 700,000 residents, has a larger population than Vermont and Wyoming.
Bowser said recent events have drawn national attention to the Washington DC plight. Earlier this year, when Congress passed the CARES Act stimulus package, Washington DC was classified as territory rather than a state - an award that cost Washington more than $ 700 million in federal coronavirus aid funding.
All district laws are subject to review by a congressional committee that can veto or change them by adding federal bills to drivers. During Congress's GOP control, conservatives have largely unsuccessfully attempted to limit some of the city's liberal initiatives, such as drug needle replacement and abortion as part of their Medicaid program.
An overwhelming majority recently passed an election initiative in 2014 to legalize marijuana leisure use. However, Congress intervened and essentially vetoed the initiative by prohibiting the district government from spending funds or resources to develop a regulatory or tax system for marijuana sales.
Bowser said Trump's actions during the protests "violated our principles that Americans can protest peacefully and our principles of local autonomy."
As a result, Bowser said her office now has unprecedented interest in the subject from across the country. She was recently interviewed on The Late Late Show, where host James Cordon said he had just learned that the district had no senators and only one non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives.
"A lot of Americans are in this place," said Bowser. "If Americans know about DC statehood, they will support DC statehood."
Hoyer admitted that the bill has met with fierce opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate and urged Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, to take the measure seriously.
"I hope Senator McConnell cares enough about our democracy to allow a vote on this bill in the United States Senate," said Hoyer. “Politics is not the problem. It's about democracy. "
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