The statehood hearing marks the first time in 25 years that a House committee will publicly review a Norton bill that would make the District the 51st state.
Statehood advocates, including Norton, Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), have been trying to build national support for statehood by framing it as a civil rights issue.
They argue that the city’s 700,000 residents are disenfranchised because they lack voting representation in Congress.
“I am particularly grateful to Chairman Cummings for his leadership and for quickly pressing forward with this hearing, which is necessary for our D.C. statehood bill to move to the House floor,” Norton said in a statement.
When Democrats took control of the House this year, the statehood issue began to gain momentum among leadership, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) supporting Norton’s legislation.
The bill has a record number of co-sponsors, more than 200, in the House, which is inching toward holding a floor vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, has said he will not advance companion legislation introduced by Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), which has 33 co-sponsors.
Many candidates vying for the 2020 presidential nomination, including members of Congress, say they support D.C. statehood.