Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
March 22, 2021
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) participated in a press call on H.R. 51, the Washington, DC Admissions Act. He was joined by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee Carolyn Maloney, and Senator Tom Carper ahead of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s hearing on H.R. 51. Below is a transcript of his remarks.  

“I am very, very, pleased to join my dear, dear friend [Congresswoman] Eleanor Holmes Norton who has been such a giant in the leadership on behalf of democracy, equity, and equality for the 700,000 people who live in the District of Columbia.

“I’m also very pleased to join an extraordinary Chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee of the Congress of the United States, who’s done such a wonderful job in leading that committee, succeeding a wonderful Marylander, Elijah Cummings. In addition to that, joining Senator Tom Carper, a leader in the Senate on this issue as he is on so many other issues, and a dear, dear, friend of mine with whom I’ve had the honor of serving in the House of Representatives and now serving as a member of the Congress of the United States Senate.

“The Founding Fathers, when they formed this Union, they wanted it to be a more perfect Union and one of the things they did was to provide for its expansion, for the addition of states as that became warranted. They wanted to be members of the United States, and the Congress wanted them to be so that they had equality with every other state. That their citizens would be perceived as full citizens of the United States of America.

“Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing on the issue of statehood for the District of Columbia. This is a critical issue of equality of our United States citizens, to that extent it is a civil rights issue. As importantly, it is an issue that the Founders contemplated. That when a people that was part of a territory – or District of Columbia if you will – decided that they wanted to be a state, they could petition to do so and they would be added. That is what we need to do here. Seven hundred thousand Americans, more than the population of two states, and Tom, I’m sure [it is] more than the population of Delaware when you became a state – the first state if you will -  the leader of us all. Of course, now, that small state, but a very, very prominent state now is the home of the President of the United States of America.

“So, 700,000 may not seem like a large number but every number, every one of our citizens is deemed to be equal with others. Seven hundred thousand Americans living in the most historically African American city in our country do not have equal representation in the Congress of the United States. Now, I’ve looked throughout the world and asked the CRS to look throughout the world, as far as I can determine there is not a country whose Capital does not have a vote in its parliament except Washington, DC. It is long overdue that we correct that failure.

“I’m proud to be a strong supporter of statehood and will be bringing this legislation to the Floor in consultation with [Congresswoman] Eleanor Holmes Norton and Congresswoman Maloney in the near future. This would give DC residents voting representation in the House and two United States Senators, which is to say, they would be deemed to be equal to every other citizen. That is as it should be, that is how the Founders contemplated it to be.

“We passed that legislation in 2020, but the Republican-controlled Senate, not surprisingly, refused to bring it up. [Senator] Tom [Carper], I’m hopeful that you’re going to – and I know you are going to make sure – that when the House passes it, the Senate will give it consideration. I’m hopeful that the Democratic Senate, with the leadership of Senator Carper, Senator Schumer, and others will bring this legislation to the Floor and will pass it and send it to the President of the United States. I want to thank Chairwoman Maloney for holding this hearing and for her strong support and leadership on DC statehood.  

“I will be leaving because I have another meeting, but Eleanor, you’ve been a giant in the leadership on behalf of statehood and equality for the residents of the District. Thank you for your leadership, your courage, your strength, and your vision. Thank you very much everybody.”