This week, H.R. 51, the Washington DC Admission Act, will be voted on by the full membership of the U.S. House of Representatives. Passing H.R. 51 in the U.S. House is the first step to ensure that DC residents are no longer disenfranchised.
More than 700,000 residents live in DC, which is more than that of Wyoming and Vermont, yet its residents still lack voting members in the U.S. House and Senate. Without these voting members, residents of DC are denied a voice in Congress to defend what matters most to their community, including attacks on their own locally passed laws and citizen backed initiatives.
Since the 1980s Congress has continuously used DC as a pawn in their political games, by banning the use of District funds to promote clean needle exchange, blocking the reproductive health choices of women, and weakening DC’s gun violence prevention laws. Most recently the federal government activated the use of military force on DC streets during peaceful protests. National guard forces, deployed by the federal government, were used to intimidate DC residents who were gathered to peacefully protest against racial injustice. Force was used to disperse protesters and, thus, reinforced the ongoing suppression of the rights of DC residents. Neither the mayor nor any other DC officials were notified about the use of national guard forces and they were not able to intervene. It is evident from this that Congress and the Administration seek to agitate the power of DC’s residents and deny them their full democratic privileges.
The League has always fought to expand access to the ballot box, and a part of that fight means giving full statehood and thus representation to the residents of DC. After many years of tireless advocacy, we are so close to seeing DC Statehood come to fruition. It's time for Congress to make moves on this legislation to enfranchise DC voters.