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Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) took her latest stab at making the District into the nation’s 51st state Tuesday, reintroducing the New Columbia Admission Act.
Offering the measure has become a tradition for Norton, who submitted the bill in the last Congress and when she was sworn in as the District’s lone delegate two decades ago. The bill would formally create the state of New Columbia, with two senators and one House member (at least until the District’s population grows enough to merit two members). The state would not have control over federal buildings and territory within its borders
Citizens of the District, Norton said in offering the bill, “are the only taxpaying Americans who are not treated as full and equal citizens. The only way for them to obtain the citizenship rights they are entitled to is through the same statehood used by other Americans.”
Norton’s past efforts have made little progress. The statehood measure came to a vote just once, in 1993, losing in the House on a 153-277 vote with nearly every Republican and more than 100 Democrats opposed. The measure never got a vote in the Senate.
Norton said Tuesday that she was “working with Senate allies” to get the bill introduced in that chamber. A companion measure was introduced in the waning days of 2012 by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), just before he retired.
In recent years, Norton and many fellow advocates for the District have concentrated their efforts on other goals short of statehood. The campaign to grant Norton full voting rights in the House has come close to fruition at least once, though Democrats scuttled that movement in 2010 when pro-gun rights lawmakers threatened to attach language gutting the city’s gun laws.
Norton has also worked with House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) toward granting the District some measure of budget autonomy, while D.C. voters will get the chance in April to achieve that goal via a controversial ballot referendum.
Advocates for the District have also pursued more symbolic victories. Last week, two D.C. Council members brought a “taxation without representation” license plate to the White House in hopes that President Obama would display it on his car.