WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) ) spoke on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 51, the Washington, DC Admission Act. Below are excerpts of his remarks and a link to the video.
Click here to watch the video.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this bill, and I thank Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and her extraordinary quest, keeping her eye on the prize to make sure that the citizens she represents have full citizenship and have our respect. I’m proud to stand with her in supporting statehood for the people of the District of Columbia…I want to thank Mayor Bowser with whom I have been proud to work [with] to move this issue forward, with the leadership of Delegate Holmes Norton.”
“I made clear when we announced that the House would consider this bill today, the people who call our nation's capital home have been disenfranchised and shortchanged for too long. Martin Luther King said how long? Too long. Not only have the residents of one of America’s most historically African American cities – let me repeat that – historically, one of our largest African American cities. It is not exclusive, it is a diverse city.”
“Not only have the residents of one of America’s great cities been prevented from having full citizenship, but they have also been shortchanged in the money we give them. Just recently, COVID-19 -- just recently, we gave them 40 percent of what we gave Wyoming [in the CARES Act], an entity 200,000 people smaller than the District of Columbia.”
“At the same time, their elected leaders can be overruled by the Congress and by the President when it comes to local issues as we saw when President Trump ordered federal law enforcement and the national guard to suppress peaceful and legitimate protests against the killing of Black men and women in encounters with the police and with others - George Zimmerman comes to mind, Trayvon Martin. This is about human rights. This is about democracy. This is about our nation being better than that.”
“The people of DC deserve not only real self-government, but also full representation in the Congress of the United States. Are these 700,000 people less than the 500,000 people in Wyoming? If we ask somebody to come to the District of Columbia and work for our government, is the condition that they lose their citizenship? That they lose their full voting rights? Is that the condition we put on them? If so, I respectfully disagree with my colleagues who believe that's what America is about.”
“…This historic legislation would admit Washington, DC as the 51st state. That would provide residents of the District of Columbia with a voting House Member and two Senators as every other group of Americans that lives in a jurisdiction called a state has the right to have. It would right [a] historical wrong to ensure that our Founders' vision of representative government would be enacted for all Americans, no longer excluding the 706,000 in the District of Columbia. The House will make action today to make the District of Columbia a state It is an historic day. Be on the right side of history.”
“This is more than just a local issue for the District of Columbia. It is a civil rights issue for our country as yesterday’s [passage of the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act] was a civil rights issue for our country. It is something that ought to concern all Americans because when some Americans are denied the full rights and representation of citizenship, it diminishes the meaning of citizenship for all.”
“I urge, Mr. Speaker, my colleagues to stand up for America, stand up for democracy, stand up for the premise of America that every person counts. Vote yes.”