Oversight Committee Holds “Historic” Hearing on D.C. Statehood
Washington, D.C. (Sept. 19, 2019)—Today the Committee on Oversight and Reform held a historic hearing on H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act—the first on DC statehood in over 25 years. H.R. 51 has 220 cosponsors, and both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have strongly endorsed the bill.
“The testimony presented today from District officials and expert witnesses leaves no doubt that the Washington, D.C. Admission Act is constitutional and that the state would meet all of its financial, economic and other obligations. Thank you, in particular, to Chairman Cummings for his continued leadership to make whole the 700,000 Americans living in the District of Columbia. The next step is again historic – H.R. 51 will be marked up to move to the House floor,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
“D.C. residents are American citizens. They fight honorably to protect our nation overseas. They pay taxes. Not many people know this, but D.C. pays more in total federal taxes than 22 states. And it pays more per capita than any state in the nation. D.C. residents have all the responsibilities of citizenship, but they have no congressional voting rights and only limited self-government,” said Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings in prepared remarks.
“I strongly support statehood for the people of the District of Columbia. I have said around the county that one of the greatest blots on our democracy is having 700,000 of our citizens unable to be fully represented in the Congress of the United States. And I have come to the conclusion that the only way to remove that blot is to be for statehood,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
The Committee heard testimony from the members of the D.C. government and a retired member of the Armed Services who is a D.C. resident.
- “And, yes, it is true that we are brown and liberal, but denying statehood would be unfair no matter who was affected—it would be unfair if we were conservatives from a rural district built around agriculture or an industrial city in the heartland. This is America, and Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, and that’s why you should support statehood,” testified Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of the District of Columbia.
- “The District’s success, even in the face of these hurdles that no other jurisdiction must ensure, demonstrates that, in addition to our being entitled to full and fair representation, the District is capable of managing its affairs just like any state. To that end, we stand on our record of responsible governing,” testified Phil Mendelson, the Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia.
- “The District of Columbia has made a remarkable journey to its strongest financial position in its history with a positive general fund balance exceeding $2.8 billion. This turnaround is testimony to the financial practices put into place that continue to be enhanced by the District’s elected leadership and key stakeholders,” testified Jeffrey S. DeWitt, the Chief Financial Officer of the Government of the District of Columbia.
- “Finally, there is but one conclusion - that D.C. military veterans have a fundamental right and earned benefit to have a voice in the election of those representatives who make our laws. Congress must now do the only right thing and stand up for our D.C. military veterans who have stood up for you,” testified Kerwin E. Miller a DC resident, attorney, and retired Naval Reserve Commander.
The Committee plans to markup the bill in the coming months with the goal of considering it on the House floor.