H.R.51 - Washington, D.C. Admission Act

Photo of Congress member Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton.

To provide for the admission of the State of Washington, D.C. into the Union.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe that Washington, D.C. citizens and residents deserve democracy, equality and representation in Congress, as well as in local and state government, just as much as other people across the country do, no matter what their political party is. Washington, District of Columbia, should become the 51st state of the Union as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe this to be a political move, rather than a move for the people of Washington D.C., since most of the residents in D.C. are affiliated with the Democratic Party. Washington, D.C, should remain unrepresented and not become the 51st state of the Union.
Introduced House Senate President Law

The Washington, D.C. Admission Act would provide admission of Washington, District of Columbia, into the Union as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth and would repeal the 23rd amendment of the constitution, which gives the District of Columbia 3 electoral votes in the Presidential Election.

Washington D.C, the capital of the United States, is neither a State nor inside of a State. It is rather a “special” federal district created as home for all three branches of the government and all major political parties. Since 1973, D.C. has had an elected mayor and a city council, but Congress still holds the authority to overturn and get rid of any local laws. The constitution grants Congress exclusive jurisdiction over the District in “all cases whatsoever.” This means Washington D.C. has no voting representation in Congress.

In the House of Representatives, Washington D.C. has a delegate who isn’t allowed to vote on the House floor but can vote on procedural and congressional committees. In the Senate, Washington D.C. has no representation whatsoever and since 1961, the district has 3 electoral votes in the presidential election. This lack of representation has obvious conflicts for its residents and several proposals have been introduced, but these have met political challenges and no change has been introduced.

Those who oppose the legislation argue that the move is political since most D.C. citizens are registered Democrats. According to the D.C. Board of Elections, as of end of 2018, 75% of registered voters belong to the Democratic party.

Those who support the legislation argue that this is clearly not a partisan or a politcal matter but rather one about democracy and equality. There are around 700,000 individuals, with more than half a million being registered U.S. citizens, that lack actual representation in local, state, and federal government. Washington D.C. has a bigger population than the state of Wyoming and Vermont, pay taxes to the federal government, and have no representation in their government.

Washington D.C. went without any vote representation until 1961, but citizens have still paid "statelike" taxes in the sum of over $5 billion a year.

According to D.C. Vote, an organization fighting for full and equal representation for DC residents, "Congress exempts those who work in DC but live just miles away in the states of Virginia and Maryland from contributing even five percent or less of their state taxes to DC. This results in a windfall for those states, but a loss to DC of a billion dollars a year. The result is higher local taxes on businesses and individuals. In addition, DC citizens pay full federal taxes - they pay higher per capita taxes than all 50 states."

Many founding fathers argued that the exclusive jurisdiction of the D.C. area was essentially vote theft if their constituents were not allowed to vote in their elections. For instance, Alexander Hamilton suggested allowing D.C. residents to vote in their previously lived state's elections, something that was never approved since at the time the main concern was passing the Constitution itself.

Car license plates in Washington D.C. have read “Taxation Without Representation” as its slogan, resembling the protests made by colonists in the turn of the American Revolution where many paid taxes to England but held no representation in their government.

This bill, would provide admission of Washington, D.C. as a state, but the initial D.C. would now stand for “Douglass Commonwealth”, as an honor to abolitionist Frederick Douglass who lived in Washington until his death.

The creation of the Commonwealth would consist of all Washington, D.C. territory, excluding federal buildings and monuments. There would not be any taxes imposed on federal property, unless authorized by Congress, and would apply all current D.C. laws to the Commonwealth continuing all judicial proceedings. The commonwealth D.C. would still be the seat of the federal government and would continue to instill the federal government’s authority over military lands and other specified property.

The legislation also repeals the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution. The 23rd Amendment gives the District of Columbia 3 electoral votes in the Presidential election. If the bill were to be enacted, there wouldn’t be a reason for such Amendment since it would now be considered a State and would hold the same electoral grounds as other States.

The Mayor of the District of Columbia would issue a proclamation to start the first elections to Congress of two Senators and One Representative for the Commonwealth.


Sponsored by: Rep. Norton, Eleanor Holmes [D-DC].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 182 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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