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Senate holds historic hearing on DC statehood

The bill passed the House in April but has stalled in the Senate

WASHINGTON — The fight for D.C. statehood continues this week at the U.S. Capitol as proponents prepare to make their case in front of a Senate committee.

The hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to a statement from D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

According to Norton, it will be only the second time ever the Senate has held a D.C. Statehood hearing.

Many of the arguments at Tuesday's hearing will likely echo those made at another hearing earlier this year.

In March, Delegate Norton told a House committee that "Congress can no longer allow D.C. residents to be sidelined in the Democratic...process."

For Norton and many other supporters, statehood for the District is a civil rights issue.

"Denying American citizens a vote in the body that taxes them goes against the founding principles of this great nation," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at that same hearing.

RELATED: 'It's about equity and democracy' | Supporters make their case for DC statehood at congressional hearing

However, GOP opposition in the House was strong, with many Republicans calling the push for statehood a political power grab to tip the balance in Congress in Democrats' favor.

"Today's hearing is all about creating two new Democratic U.S. Senate seats," said Representative James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, at that March hearing.

Many other House Republicans shared the same sentiment.

The House ultimately passed the statehood bill 216 to 208, sending it to the Senate in a strict party-line vote.

There, the statehood bill faces more staunch political headwinds.

To be sure, support exists.

"Making D.C. a state is truly a civil rights issue," said Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat. "It's also an issue of racial justice."

Many Senate Democrats share Booker's opinion.

RELATED: Senate committee to hear DC Statehood bill in June

But the real question is whether there is enough support in the Senate to get the numbers needed to pass the statehood bill.

Democrats hold just a razor-thin 50 member majority in the Senate, Republican backing for D.C. statehood is unlikely, and 60 votes are necessary to pass most legislation.

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