Policy Explainer: D.C. Statehood and H.R. 51

Last updated on April 21, 2021

As you’ve likely seen, there’s a lot happening when it comes to voting rights legislation. To help you keep track of everything you need to know and how to take action, we’ve launched a series of explainers that dig into the details.

Read our first explainer about the For the People Act here. Up next: D.C. Statehood and Passing H.R. 51

Why support D.C. Statehood?

  • Washington, D.C. is home to 700,000+ residents, a larger population than Vermont or Wyoming. D.C. residents pay federal taxes, serve on juries and in the U.S. military — yet because D.C. is not a state, they have no votes in Congress.
  • Washington, D.C. is the only political and geographical entity within the United States whose citizens bear the responsibilities of citizenship without sharing the full rights and privileges of citizenship.
  • Additionally, this is an equity issue: Washington, D.C. is a historically Black city, and lack of representation is a wider oppression and disenfranchisement of Black Americans.
  • D.C.’s lack of statehood means that their laws and budgets have to be approved by Congress — where they don’t have a vote.

H.R. 51 would:

  • Make Washington, D.C. the 51st state, giving residents a voice on key issues facing our nation
  • Provide D.C.’s 700,000+ citizens with proportional representation in the U.S. Congress
  • Shield D.C. residents from constant Federal interference in local affairs
  • Provide critical constituent services

D.C. residents deserve adequate representation in governing their affairs. Passing H.R. 51 is the first step in making that happen.

How to take action:

Helpful messaging about D.C. Statehood:

  • Focus on the fundamental American principle of fair representation within our government. This is about upholding the basic tenants of our democracy and ensuring that the 700,000+ D.C. residents are able to enjoy the same protections as the rest of the nation, and have their voices heard.
  • Contextualize this as an equity issue. Washington, D.C. is a historically Black city, and lack of D.C. statehood has a disproportionate impact on Black Americans.
  • Highlight the ways that this impacts D.C. residents. Washington, D.C.’s population must pay taxes and perform other duties as citizens. D.C. residents pay more taxes than residents in 22 states and pay more per capita to the federal government than any state — without full representation in Congress.

Additional Resources

  • Vote.org CEO Andrea Hailey recently joined Spread the Vote’s Kat Calvin for a live podcast episode featuring special guest Marc Elias. Check out the recording below for an update on voting rights nationwide.
  • Voting Rights Lab is actively monitoring hundreds of anti-voting bills moving across 47 states.
  • Vote.org’s Twitter, Instagram, and #VoteReady Social Press Kit contain shareable social media content, explainers, and inspiration.

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