U.S. House passes D.C. statehood bill, but votes still lacking in Senate

U.S. House passes D.C. statehood bill, but votes still lacking in Senate
(Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON — For the second time, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a measure to make the District of Columbia the 51st state, sending the historic bill to the Senate on a party-line vote.

“We look forward to a swift vote in the Senate on this essential legislation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), said ahead of Thursday’s 216-208 vote.

But if the narrowly Democratic-controlled Senate were to speedily bring up the measure, it would be all but guaranteed to fail.

More senators have co-sponsored the statehood bill than ever before. However, five members of the Democratic caucus have not signed on: Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire; Joe Manchin of West Virginia; and Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

Hesitation from this handful of Democrats, plus the Senate’s 60-vote threshold that would necessitate support from some Republicans, means the proposal is unlikely to reach the president’s desk anytime soon.

A spokeswoman for Shaheen, who previously co-sponsored a statehood bill, said Thursday that the senator supports D.C. statehood “because she believes that every citizen deserves equal representation in Congress.” The spokeswoman said Shaheen is reviewing the current legislation.

“I haven’t made a decision on it one way or the other,” Kelly told Capitol Hill reporters this week, according to a pool feed. “I’ll make a decision ultimately based on what’s in the best interest of our country.”

“As of now, I’m undecided,” King told another Capitol Hill reporter. His office did not respond to a message from States Newsroom seeking additional comment on the proposal.

A spokesperson for Sinema said, “While no legislation on Washington, D.C. statehood is currently scheduled for a Senate vote, Kyrsten has said that the admission of new states to the union is one of the most important responsibilities granted to Congress—and that having all Americans’ voices heard in our federal government through elected representatives is fundamentally important to Arizonans, and to all American citizens.

“Kyrsten believes that any change to the District’s status should be fairly considered by Congress, and she will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to honor and protect our nation’s capital. If legislation is brought to a vote, Kyrsten will—as always—vote based on what’s right for Arizona.”