Last Congress, the House made history when it passed D.C. Statehood; but the effort died in the Senate. With record support in the House this session and Democratic control of both chambers of Congress, the Senate must act and change the rules to make D.C. the 51st state with 51 votes. Together, let’s stop the wait.
An archaic procedural rule has turned the U.S. Senate into a legislative graveyard and has made it nearly impossible to move essential measures forward. D.C. statehood should not meet the same fate. Members of the Senate must have courage to amend the rules and allow one of the most essential civil rights and voting rights legislation of modern times to bypass the filibuster and advance with 51 votes. Residents of Washington, D.C. have waited long enough.
In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. said,
“For years now I have heard the word “wait.” It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.” It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Leaving 700,000 mostly Black and Brown residents without a vote in Congress is racism. We must change the rules in the Senate to realize a democracy that represents Black and Brown people, not one intentionally designed to leave people of color out.
The Senate does not represent the diversity of our country and holds back popular legislation. Throughout American history, there have only been 11 Black senators and the filibuster has blocked civil rights legislation for decades. Today, just 16 percent of the total U.S. population gets half the representation in the U.S. Senate. D.C. statehood won’t fix everything, but it’s a crucial step toward mending our broken Senate.
“Being born and raised in D.C., I knew my voice meant nothing at a national level. Growing up in this city, I faced issues from affordable housing to economic disparities to a lack of funding for public school education — everything you can think of that impacts a young Black man like me in this city, D.C. is unable to control.”
D.C.’s lack of statehood has already put residents at great risk. When Donald Trump incited a violent insurrectionist riot to overtake the Capitol, D.C lacked adequate security measures because it did not have statehood. This comes after Trump deployed the National Guard to violently use tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters to clear a path for his personal photo op. In any other state, he would have to ask the governor’s permission to deploy the National Guard, but not in D.C. This racist double standard left our community vulnerable and in harm's way.
“In D.C., we’ve always had to deal with whatever the federal government wants to do with us. Trump sending in troops showed why we need our autonomy and why we should be a state — to have some control over things.”
Without a voting seat at the congressional table to negotiate coronavirus relief packages, D.C.’s residents were shorted millions in life-saving aid from the federal government. Instead of grouping D.C. with other states in the first COVID relief package, it was categorized as a U.S. territory in the CARES Act and received less than half of the minimum $1.25 billion that other states received, including states like Wyoming and Vermont with smaller populations. Unless D.C. statehood is achieved, the District of Columbia will continue to miss out on critical funding opportunities that have served as a lifeline for state and local governments during this pandemic.
“D.C. is the powerhouse of our democracy, but as a D.C. resident, I don’t have voting power in the Capitol building just a short walk from home. When politicians were negotiating COVID relief packages, the voices of Washingtonians were ignored. We didn’t get the support we deserved."
For the first time in the history of this country, a chamber of Congress has approved D.C. statehood and now, with a new Democratic majority, our senators have the power to make the 51st state a reality with 51 votes. The new Democratic majority must demonstrate courage in the face of McConnell’s dangerous inaction and obstruction to help change the broken rules of our democracy.
The only thing standing in our way is the filibuster — an archaic rule that requires 60 votes to pass any legislation in the Senate. It’s a rule too often exploited to kill civil rights legislation.
We are committed to doing what it takes to pass D.C. statehood in the Senate, and that starts with eliminating the filibuster. The simple rules change is already popular — Joe Biden and 17 other former presidential candidates have endorsed this as a real pathway to D.C. statehood. And the rules have been changed before – just three years ago, Trump changed them to confirm a Supreme Court justice to the bench. There’s no longer an excuse to simply support statehood behind closed doors and not take action.
Together, we are committed to fighting for a democracy that represents all people.
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Now, we need your help to push for a real path to D.C. statehood with 51 votes in the U.S. Senate. Take a moment to email, call, or text your senator:Take Action Now