News & Politics

The Senate Is Just Humoring DC With Next Week’s Statehood Hearing

It's a nice gesture, but very unlikely to produce results.

Photograph by Flickr user Ted Eytan.

A Senate committee will hold a long-overdue hearing next week on a bill that would grant the District full statehood, says an uncharacteristically jubilant Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Next Monday, Senator Thomas Carper, a Delaware Democrat who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, will convene a hearing on the New Columbia Admissions Act, a bill that Norton and her predecessors as DC’s non-voting House member have introduced at least ten times since 1983.

Congress has held hearings on granting the District budget autonomy and even a voting member of the House in recent years, but a session on actual statehood is exceedingly rare: the last one came in 1994, right before a DC-friendly Democratic majority got wiped out in midterm elections.

In a statement from her office, Norton touts the current statehood bill’s sponsorship by Carper and 16 other senators—one short of the record, if you keep track of such things—and 99 members of the House. She’s also got President Obama’s support for statehood, which he voiced in July, to fall back on.

But don’t unfurl that 51-star US flag just yet. The Senate is just humoring the District. With Congress intent on not debating anything in the national interest like immigration, campaign finance limits, funding government operations between now and early November, it can focus on members’ pet interests that will ultimately go nowhere, certainly not in the Republican House. That includes DC statehood.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.