Hoyer made the announcement in an op-ed in The Washington Post.
“Statehood would provide those in our nation’s capital with the best chance of attaining what residents of every other national capital in our fellow democracies enjoy: full representation in their national legislature,” he wrote. “Moving forward with the process of statehood would remove obstacles that have proven difficult in prior efforts to give D.C. residents the vote.”
Hoyer had been the last Democratic federal lawmaker in the capital region to oppose full statehood for the District, after Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.) announced his support for the move in February.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, introduced a bill that would give the District all the rights of the 50 other states — including two U.S. senators and, to start, one House member with full voting rights (which Norton lacks even when Democrats control the chamber).
Hoyer previously supported full voting rights for the District, but stopped short of believing it should be a state.
“Our founders, who prescribed the creation of a national capital not within the jurisdiction of any individual state, never intended for those living in it to be denied representation,” Hoyer wrote. “Defending the new Constitution, James Madison assured his fellow Americans that residents of this new capital district would happily live there ‘as they will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them.’ For 228 years, our government has denied them that voice.”
With Democrats in control of the House, statehood advocates are confident the bill, which has 205 sponsors, will pass in the House. The bill is unlikely to gain traction in the GOP-controlled Senate, however.
The second-highest ranking House Democrat, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Hoyer previously said he would not block the statehood bill from getting a vote on the floor.
At the time, he said it would be too complicated to delineate state responsibilities from federal responsibilities if Congress were to create a state from most of what is currently the District of Columbia, as Norton’s bill prescribes.
Maryland and Virginia residents have also expressed concern that if the District achieves statehood, it could impose a commuter tax on suburbanites who work in the nation’s capital.