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House passes bill that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state

House passes bill that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state
House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday about a vote on Thursday to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

April 22 (UPI) -- The House voted along party lines Thursday to pass a bill that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

It's the second time in as many years that the lower chamber passed a D.C. statehood bill, this time by a vote of 216 to 208.

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The bill next is likely to get a committee hearing in the Senate, but the Democratic-backed proposal needs 10 Republicans to support it for the bill to receive a floor vote.

"Congress has both the moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass H.R. 51," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. in her floor speech before the vote.

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"This country was founded on the principles of no taxation without representation and consent of the governed, but D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot consent to the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live."

The House oversight committee approved the bill earlier this month. A similar effort a year ago was also passed in the House but was never taken up in the Republican-held Senate.

Those who favor D.C. statehood say the district has 700,000 residents -- more than both Wyoming and Vermont -- yet they are not represented with voting members in Congress. As much of the district's population is comprised of people of color, they also say it's time to give them adequate representation on Capitol Hill.

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Opponents argue that the bill is a power grab since the district is largely Democratic.

If the Senate passed the bill, it would head to President Joe Biden, who has already indicated he would sign it.

"Washington, D.C., has a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy," Biden's budget office said Tuesday. "The administration calls for the Congress to provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood for the people of Washington, D.C."

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House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has said denying D.C. statehood blocks residents from having a voice in Congress.

"The voice of every American citizen deserves to be heard," he tweeted recently. "It's past time that we make statehood a reality for D.C."

A letter from 22 Republican state attorneys general to Biden earlier this month said the U.S. Constitution gives Congress authority over Washington, D.C., and that the only way to grant it statehood would be to pass a constitutional amendment.

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A commercial airplane moves across the Manhattan midtown skyline to land at LaGuardia Airport at sunset in New York City on September 2, 2021. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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