Hoyer Remarks at Press Conference on DC Statehood

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) joined Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and DC Shadow Senator Paul Strauss this afternoon at a press conference ahead of the vote on DC statehood. The House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 51, the Washington, DC Admissions Act, tomorrow. Below are excerpts of his remarks:  

“We are going to pass a bill in the House of Representatives that says those who happen to live within these three quarters and a river are full citizens of America and should be accorded, therefore, the full rights of citizenship in our country. I am so very proud of [Rep.] Eleanor Holmes Norton, and of Mayor [Muriel] Bowser, and of [DC Council] Chair [Phil] Mendelson, and of Senator [Paul] Strauss, who is the Shadow Senator… I’m pleased to also be here with Representative [Carolyn] Maloney, the Chair of the Government Oversight Committee that reported this bill out. Thank you, Carolyn Maloney. And my departed colleague, [Elijah Cummings] – whose famous statement [was] ‘we are better than this’ – believed that we are better than disenfranchising 700,000 of our fellow citizens.”

“Tomorrow, as I said, the House will pass this historic legislation. It has 226 co-sponsors at this time. This is long overdue, not only for the representation and full self-governance of the District, but also for advancing a key civil rights issue in our country… We are the only… free country in the world, from all our research, that doesn’t have a voting member of their parliament in their country. We call our parliament ‘Congress.’ Eleanor Holmes Norton is an extraordinary effective Member of the Congress of the United States, a full Member of the Congress of the United States, but we don’t allow her to vote on the Floor of the House of Representatives, which means 700,000 people are voiceless in our country. That’s not what our democracy is about.”

“…Today, [with] this bill on Justice in Policing, we say that all people are created equal. And tomorrow, we will say that 700,000 of those people who were created equal will have a vote. So this is a historic meeting of the Congress of the United States this week.”

“When someone moves into the District from another state, that person, that American is effectively disenfranchised simply because they moved to the capital of their nation. How ironic that you would come to the capital of your nation, and your nation would say to you: ‘sorry, you no longer have a voting member’… That runs counter to our Founder’s Declaration that all are created equal.”

“I have been a long-time, strong supporter of the District of Columbia having a voting Member in the Congress of the United States. And I knew how difficult it would be for them to be a state, so I focused on that and worked with Ms. Norton on that.. But I concluded that, over a year ago, I concluded that the only way that we are going to treat the citizens of the District of Columbia as equals is to make them a state. That’s why I’m here, urging my Members, urging my Republican colleagues, to vote for this bill, [to] stand up for democracy, [to] stand up for the principles of our country.”

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