Updated: 5:32 PM PDT, March 23, 2021
The days of “taxation without representation” may come to an end as Washington, D.C., may become the 51st state of the United States. Congress will begin a long-awaited deliberation this week about its statehood.
Advocates of the district’s statehood claim it is a fight for racial justice as the majority of D.C.’s 700,000 residents are people of color, NPR reported.
“All we’re looking for is equality with other Americans, especially since we pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the United States,” delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who drafted and reintroduced the bill titled H.R. 51, told the outlet.
Norton, a non-voting delegate who first introduced the piece of legislation thirty years ago, says that she does not have the voting power other states get in the House. She also says the state is lacking the benefit of having two senators.
The bill was passed by the House last year by a vote of 232-180, but the Republican-led Senate shut it down, CBS News reported.
A new national poll by Data for Progress reveals that 54% of likely voters believe D.C. should be an official state. The majority of those respondents are Democrats, leading with 74% approval compared to 34% of Republican approval.
The number of supporters has risen over the last two years, with only about 35% of voters in favor of D.C. becoming an official state in January 2019, data shows.
Washington, D.C. is the home of the Nacotchtank people, also known as Anacostans, but after the community was pushed out of their land by British colonists, it became part of both Maryland and Virginia, according to History.com.
Later, the states gave up the territory and it was made into the District of Columbia and established as the country’s capital. At the time, it reportedly had too few residents to become a state, the outlet reported.
A growing Black population began to surface in D.C. and in the 1870s, Congress stripped the territory of its local representation as a way to deter the newly enfranchised community of any political power.
Until 1964, residents of D.C. couldn’t even vote, the Economist reported.
Residents of D.C. pay more in federal taxes than 21 states and more per capita than any other state, CBS News reported.
In 2000, the Department of Motor Vehicles in D.C. began printing “Taxation Without Representation” on all of its standard license plates as protest, and, most recently, in 2016 they revised the slogan to add, “End Taxation without Representation,” the Washington Post reported.
With growing public support and an exceptionally high number of co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and with support from President Joe Biden, it is possible the bill will be passed by Congress.
A hearing held Monday by the House of Committees Oversight and Reform can be watched here.