At a press conference on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that President Joe Biden supports D.C. statehood, confirming the stance that Biden first shared while still Vice President back in 2015. “He believes they deserve representation. That’s why he supports D.C. statehood,” Psaki said. Although the issue of D.C. statehood was put on the back burner for a long time, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will convene a hearing on a statehood bill on Monday, and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer recently said that he believes the bill will pass the House before summer.
The D.C. statehood bill, which was introduced by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, would shrink the boundaries of the federal district to a two-square-mile area of government buildings, including the White House, the Capitol building, and the Supreme Court. The rest of what is currently the District would become the 51st state, named the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, in honor of Frederick Douglass. Norton was also responsible for introducing a similar bill in the House of Representatives last year, which passed 232-180,
One of the reasons that statehood has recently become a priority for Democrats is that it would likely grant them two additional Democratic Senators—which could help them shift the balance in the divided Senate, where the filibuster requires a 60 vote majority in order to pass most legislation. However, that very same filibuster rule could be one of the legislation’s most significant barriers to success, as D.C. statehood advocates do not yet have 51 supporters within the Senate, let alone 60.
“It’s not a local issue anymore — it’s a national issue,” long-term D.C. statehood advocate Rep. Jamie B. Raskin told the Washington Post. “There’s obviously a powerful democratic imperative for getting everybody equal political rights and representation. But there’s a national political logic for it, too, because the Senate has become the principal obstacle to social progress across a whole range of issues.”