YOU DECIDE: D.C. Statehood

Posted by on Apr 6, 2021 in You Decide!
Aerial view of Washington, D.C., looking west, with Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building in center
Aerial view of Washington, D.C.,

The District of Columbia, the capital of the United States, is not a state. At the time of the country’s formation, not enough people lived in the District to justify statehood. National leaders didn’t want so much power to be concentrated in one state.  Today, D.C. residents pay federal taxes, but still do not have representation in Congress. This has led to the push for Washington, D.C., statehood.

Washington, D.C., does have a delegate in the House of Representatives. Her name is Eleanor Holmes Norton. Delegate Norton is a member of committees and can vote on committee actions. But the D.C. representative is not allowed to vote on legislation requiring a full chamber vote. Currently, Congress is considering HR 51, a bill that would create a new state called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth. (The state would be named for President George Washington and for abolitionist Frederick Douglass.) Under the new bill, all of the federal government buildings would remain a smaller “federal district,” while the area of the city where people live would become the new state.

Based on what you’ve heard and seen in the news, YOU DECIDE: Should Washington, D.C., be granted statehood?


  • District residents pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the nation. Yet they do not have any representatives in Congress with voting power.
  • Admitting the District as a state is a matter of social justice: the majority of the city is currently people of color.
  • Currently, 700,000 people live in the District of Columbia, which is more people than live in the states of Wyoming and Vermont.
  • There is popular support for D.C. statehood. According to some national polling 54 percent of likely national voters support the idea. 277 Democrats co-sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, and more than forty in the Senate. President Biden has voiced support for it as well.


  • Making Washington, D.C., into a new state is not constitutional. Doing so would violate the 23rd Amendment, which grants the District three Electoral College votes.
  • Admitting the District as a state would tip the balance of Congress unfairly in favor of the Democrats, because the electorate of Washington, D.C. historically votes Democratic.
  • Some D.C. residents are against statehood because of the expense of running it as a state. The new state would have to fund its own prisons and courts.
  • Washington, D.C., was created on land that used to belong to the state of Maryland. Maryland has not given permission to Congress to create a new state with the land.
You decide
Credit: McGraw-Hill Education

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