Democratic Senators Push To Make “New Columbia” Nation’s 51st State

Otherwise known as Washington, D.C.

Senate TV / AP

WASHINGTON — Senators Joe Lieberman, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, and Barbara Boxer introduced legislation Wednesday to grant Washington, D.C. statehood, creating the nation’s 51st state — “New Columbia.”

The state would not include all of the current district according to a press release, leaving federal buildings and the National Mall under Congress’ control.

If the law passes Congress, D.C. residents would hold a vote for statehood, and if successful would be the first state admitted to the Union since Hawaii in August 21, 1959.

Lieberman, who is retiring from the Senate next month, called the effort to grant Washington, D.C. statehood “unfinished business” of his career. As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Lieberman has had oversight of legislation dealing with the capital city.

“It is long past time to give those American citizens who have chosen the District of Columbia as their home the voice they deserve in our democracy,” Lieberman said in a statement. “The United States is the only democracy in the world that denies voting representation to the people who live in its capital city. As I retire from the Senate after having had the great privilege of serving here for 24 years, securing full voting rights for the 600,000 disenfranchised people who live in the District is unfinished business, not just for me, but for the United States of America.”

The Full Release:


SENATORS MOVE FORWARD WITH D.C. STATEHOOD BILL
INTRODUCE THE NEW COLUMBIA ADMISSIONS ACT

WASHINGTON— Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Senators Dick Durbin, R-Ill., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced legislation Wednesday granting Washington D.C. full statehood, including full voter representation in Congress for its residents.

The New Columbia Admissions Act, S. 3696, is the first D.C. statehood bill to be introduced in the Senate since 1993. It would create a 51st state called New Columbia. In January 2011, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, introduced companion legislation in the House, H.R. 265.

“It is long past time to give those American citizens who have chosen the District of Columbia as their home the voice they deserve in our democracy,” said Lieberman. “The United States is the only democracy in the world that denies voting representation to the people who live in its capital city. As I retire from the Senate after having had the great privilege of serving here for 24 years, securing full voting rights for the 600,000 disenfranchised people who live in the District is unfinished business, not just for me, but for the United States of America.”

“It might surprise some students of American history to know that it wasn’t until the 1964 election that residents of the District of Columbia were finally able to cast a ballot for President and Vice President of the United States,” said Durbin. “Unfortunately, the disenfranchisement of these citizens is not yet a relic of history. More than a half century later, Washingtonians are still denied full voting representation in Congress. I first voted in favor of this legislation nearly two decades ago, and I will continue to stand with the people of the District until they are granted the voting rights that they deserve.”

“I am proud to join with Senators Lieberman, Durbin, and Boxer in co-sponsoring this long-overdue legislation,” said Murray. “Residents of the District of Columbia have been denied their right to fully participate in our democracy for far too long, and this legislation would finally give residents a voice.”

If passed by Congress, the act would allow D.C. residents to endorse statehood by a district-wide vote. New Columbia would include residential neighborhoods and business districts where the majority of D.C. residents live and work. It would not incorporate sections of D.C. where most government buildings and the Mall are located. That area would remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress as a federal district.

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