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Statehood is the most appropriate mechanism to grant the United States citizens who reside in the District of Columbia the full rights and privileges of American citizenship. These rights include not only equal representation in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate but also full control over local affairs.

Congress' power over the District

The United States is the only nation in the world with a representative, democratic constitution that denies voting representation in the national legislature to citizens of the capital. In addition to paying federal taxes, District residents pay local taxes and bear all the responsibilities associated with citizenship. There are two states (Vermont and Wyoming) that have populations that are smaller than the District of Columbia yet they have full representation in Congress and control over their own local affairs.

The District’s budget is subject to congressional approval and must be signed into law by the President of the United States. Congress can even dictate how the District spends its own locally-raised tax revenue. Through the budget, Congress can, and has many times, controlled the implementation of local laws passed by our elected leaders and referendums approved by DC voters. DC elects a Delegate to the House of Representatives who can draft legislation but does not have a vote. The current Delegate for the District of Columbia is Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

DC residents also elect two United States Senators and a United States Representative who are not recognized by Congress. This “shadow” congressional delegation lobbies Congress on statehood for the District. The current senators are Michael D. Brown and Paul Strauss. DC’s current representative is Franklin Garcia.

Achieving statehood: Active legislation

Delegate Holmes Norton has introduced the New Columbia Admission Act (H.R. 317) that would grant DC statehood. She has also introduced the District of Columbia Budget Autonomy Act of 2015 (H.R. 552) which would grant the District budget autonomy.

New Columbia Statehood Commission

In 2014, the DC City Council passed legislation to create the New Columbia Statehood Commission. The Commission will act as an independent agency within DC government and provide support to the statehood delegation in promoting statehood and voting rights to the District. The Commission is comprised of Mayor Muriel Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Senators Paul Strauss and Michael D. Brown, and Representative Franklin Garcia. The Commission met twice in 2015 (see information about the first Commission meeting and select here for information about the second meeting). The activities of the Commission will be managed by an Executive Director and meetings and activities of the Commission will be posted to this website.

Organizations involved in DC voting rights and statehood issues: