Harry Reid’s support for D.C. statehood is nothing new

June 19, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) used his remarks Wednesday during the formal dedication of a statue honoring Frederick Douglass to voice support for making the District of Columbia a full-fledged state.

"Washington, D.C. residents pay taxes, just like residents of Nevada, California or any other state," Reid said during his remarks. "Washington, D.C. residents have fought and died in every American war, just like residents of Ohio, Kentucky or any other state. And Washington, D.C. residents deserve the same right to self-government and Congressional representation as residents of any other state."

"The District deserves statehood. And Congress should act to grant it," he added.

Reid cited Douglass, who wrote shortly before his death that the District is "the one spot where there is no government for the people, of the people and by the people. Its citizens submit to rulers whom they have no choice in selecting. They obey laws which they had no voice in making.”

Reid's remarks Wednesday were his most high-profile comments on the topic to date, but he's been consistent on the issue for almost 20 years, according to aides.

He supported the D.C. Voting Rights Act of 2009 that would have granted the District a voting members of the House of Representatives. The measure earned sufficient support in the Senate, but never became law.

That year he also told reporters that "I'm for full statehood, but -- you know, always have been."

In 2011, when discussing the averted shutdown of the federal government, Reid told reporters that he'd been supportive of D.C. statehood "for 15 years."

Legislation giving D.C. a vote in Congress comes up regularly, but Reid hasn't pushed aggressively to hold a vote on the proposal while Senate leader. Legislation making the District a state is even rarer; a bill was introduced at the end of the last Congress, but Reid didn't cosponsor it. Still, if and when such bills finally make their way through the process, supporters can count Reid in.

Ben Pershing contributed to this report.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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