WASHINGTON — For the first time in 219 years, the District of Columbia sits on the verge of declaring its independence from congressional oversight and becoming the 51st state.
In a live interview on WUSA9, following the State of the Union Address, House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) promised to bring HR 51 to a vote on the House floor before the summer recess.
In September, the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing on the statehood proposal. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was among those who testified.
During those hearings, House Republicans on the committee were emphatic in their opposition to the proposal.
The GOP's main argument is that they believe making D.C. a state would require a constitutional amendment; a lengthy and arduous ordeal that requires the consent of two-thirds of both chambers of Congress and two-thirds of the current states.
That option is seen as highly unlikely given the partisan make-up of Congress and the state legislatures plus the vocal opposition of Republicans.
Because of its residents' political leanings, D.C. as a state would very likely add two Democrat senators and a Democrat House member to Congress.
Democratic lawmakers believe D.C. could achieve statehood through a simple majority vote by both chambers of Congress and the President's signature.
President Trump offered this regarding statehood during a Meet the Press interview in 2015; "I'd certainly look at it."
D.C.'s congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton tells WUSA9 that HR 51 is scheduled for a 'mark up' process next week. That's when bills are closely scrutinized, rewritten and amendments proposed.
Although unlikely given the political landscape, if the House were to vote to approve HR 51 and the Senate moved swiftly to concur, in theory the President could sign the D.C. statehood bill into effect before America's birthday on the Fourth of July.