Society

D.C. Votes Overwhelmingly To Become 51st State (Photo)

| by Sarah Zimmerman

The District of Columbia made history in the Nov. 8 election, passing a measure to petition Congress to become the 51st state of the union.

The ballot, which won with an overwhelming 79 percent of the vote, had four separate parts, reports NPR, and will be sent to Congress by Inauguration Day for approval. The measure calls for D.C. to be renamed the "State of New Columbia" and be admitted into the union as a state with approved boundaries, a state constitution and a guarantee of elected representation in government. 

D.C. residents currently do not have full representation in Congress. Because they are not officially recognized as a state, they do not have two elected senators working on their behalf and, while they have a delegate in the House of Representatives, that delegate is not allowed to vote on the floor. D.C. is still represented in the electoral college system, and receives three electoral votes for the general election.

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Mayor Muriel E. Bowser told The Washington Post the ballot is a huge step forward for residents.

"This is what I’ve heard from D.C. residents all over the city ... They want to be treated like every American. They want two senators,” she said. “We need equality, and the only way to get there is with statehood.”

The fight for statehood in D.C. has been consistently shut down by Republican members of Congress over the years. Given the Republicans have taken control of the House, Senate and the executive branch, it's unclear whether the petition will be approved.

The district currently has a population of 672,000, which is larger than both the states of Vermont and Wyoming. Residents also pay higher federal taxes than more than 22 states. 

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“We pay federal taxes like we’re a state. We need to see some of the benefits of being a state,” said Kathy Jasper, a resident of D.C. and supporter of the measure.

President-elect Donald Trump said in 2015 that he wouldn't be against the idea of D.C. achieving statehood, saying that he would want "whatever's best" for the people of D.C.

"I would look at a number of things," he said. "And something would be done that everybody would be happy." 

Sources: NPR, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Famartin/Wikimedia Commons, Lorie Shaull/Flickr

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