51 for 51 Statement on D.C. Statehood Senate Hearing

Voting rights are the bedrock of our democracy and they’re under attack across the country — Washington, D.C. is no exception.’

Wasington, D.C. — Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on S.51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. It marks just the second hearing on D.C. statehood in the Senate’s history, the first hearing after a bill has passed the House, and a monumental step in the two-century long fight for statehood. The hearing comes after 51 for 51 led over 100 groups in writing a letter calling on Senate HSGAC Chairman Gary Peters to hold a public hearing for the bill. 

To mark this occasion, 51 for 51 campaign manager Stasha Rhodes issued the following statement:

“Voting rights are the bedrock of our democracy and they’re under attack across the country — Washington, D.C. is no exception. For over 200 years, the mostly Black and Brown residents of D.C. have been denied a vote in Congress. Today’s hearing was a historic step towards righting that wrong. The Senate must pass D.C. statehood with 51 votes in the Senate this Congress so that Washingtonians no longer have to languish under a system where they’re taxed without full representation or self governance. We want to thank Chairman Peters for advancing statehood in his committee today and calling attention to the most pressing civil rights issue of our time.”

The Washington, D.C. Admission Act has record support with 46 Senators on the bill. Recently, nearly 40 of the nation’s leading constitutional law scholars sent a letter to Congress affirming the constitutionality of D.C. statehood. And in April, the Biden White House released the first ever Statement of Administration Policy in support of H.R. 51. 

Highlights from the hearing:

“It’s time to follow the lead of our colleagues in the House and pass the Washington DC. Admission Act, which will finally ensure D.C. residents have the full congressional representation and self governance that they deserve. Our democracy was built on our nation’s most defining principle, that our government’s power is derived directly from the people,” said Senate HSGAC Chairman Gary Peters. 

“We are a nation of many faces, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and others. Each of these six religions share at least one thing in common, each of them. They share this admonition to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to treat other people the way we want to be treated. The more than 700,000 citizens of the District of Columbia are our neighbors. They deserve to be treated as such by the rest of us in this country.” said Sen. Carper

“Congress has both a moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass our D.C. statehood bill,” said Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton. “A group of very distinguished law professors and scholars from America’s top law schools have sent a definitive analysis of the bill’s constitutional constitutionality to the House and Senate leadership. The Admissions Clause gives Congress the authority to admit all 37 new states were admitted by Congress by majority vote [emphasis added].”

“Today’s residents of the District of Columbia, as has been said, have every right to sound the battle cry of our revolution: no taxation without representation,” said Former Sen. Joe Lieberman. “Why would anyone not want to eliminate these grossly outdated on American inequities… Well the media suggests it is not constitutional or philosophical, but political and partisan… I hope that is not the problem, because it is self-evidently unacceptable in America to condition the enjoyment of constitutional rights on political party membership.”

“Will this body perpetuate this civil rights and voting rights wrong? By what authority will this body continue to have Washingtonians pay federal income taxes without a voice? Today I’m asking that the United States Senate usher in a new age of fairness and equality for D.C. residents,” testified D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Prayerfully, I will be the last D.C. mayor who needs to sit here demanding what is our birthright, and what is owed to us as taxpayers—full citizenship and full democracy” 

“Black Americans have fought and died for the right to vote in this country for centuries — this right has been given and taken away by those in power at the expense of its citizens,” said the Honorable Marc H. Morial, CEO of National Urban League. “This is injustice. This is a denial of voting rights. This is something that should be remedied now.”

“Today, the number of registered voters in D.C. today is larger than the entire number of voters who participated in all of the elections for all of the conventions that ratified the Constitution, in all 13 original states together,” said Professor Richard Primus, Theodore J. Antoine Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School. “On any constitutional vision that takes representative government seriously, that’s a serious problem. Given the importance the founders attached to representative government, it would be strange to conclude that their vision requires us to maintain a situation in which so many American citizens lack representation.”

Republican Senators and witnesses made outrageous and false claims, so we’re setting the record straight:
  • Sen. Portman and others suggested that retrocession might be “a better option” — completely overriding the consent of the governed. Polls show neither D.C. nor Maryland residents support retrocession, and the idea is rooted in slavery. Read 51 for 51’s fact sheet about why retrocession is simply not an option. 
  • Many alleged that D.C. statehood is a partisan power grab, but Republicans like Former Vice President Mike Pence used to support statehood. Check out a new report here about historical Republican support. 
  • Sen. Hawley tried to weaponize a 1963 Congressional testimony from Robert Kennedy as an argument against statehood, but Kennedy’s daughter published an op-ed explaining that her father would be a champion of statehood. 

To speak with a representative of 51 for 51, please contact 


51 for 51 is a coalition of D.C.-based and national groups committed to equal representation for the over 700,000 D.C. residents who remain locked out of our democracy. The coalition of 20 progressive groups believe American citizens living in the District deserve a voice in Congress and control over their own local laws. Already, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Senators Warren, Markey, Gillibrand and Hickenlooper have endorsed 51 for 51’s proposed path to statehood. 

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