<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/us/politics/dc-statehood-house-vote.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">House Approves D.C. Statehood in Historic Vote</a>  <font color="#6f6f6f">The New York Times</font>

It is the first time a chamber of Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as the 51st state. The measure is all but certain to die in the Republican-led Senate.






The House voted to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., the first time a chamber of Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as the 51st state. The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-led Senate.

It is long past time to apply the nation’s oldest slogan, “no taxation without representation,” and the principle of consent of the governed to District of Columbia residents. H.R. 51 would do so, and Congress has both the moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass the bill. Eighty-six percent of D.C. residents voted in favor of statehood in 2016. In fact, D.C. residents have been fighting for voting rights in Congress and local autonomy for 219 years. If offered, I will vote to return residential portions of D.C. to Maryland, thus giving D.C. citizens the power to vote on Maryland’s two U.S. senators. That option is consistent with historical precedents. But I will never vote to give a single, middling-sized city the same political power as one of America’s great 50 states. There being 232 votes in the affirmative, 180 votes in the negative, the District of Columbia statehood bill, H.R. 51, is passed without objection. Motion to reconsider is laid upon the table. [scattered applause]

Video player loading
The House voted to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., the first time a chamber of Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as the 51st state. The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-led Senate.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted nearly along party lines on Friday to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., the first time a chamber of Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as a state.

The legislation, which is unlikely to advance in the Republican-led Senate, would establish a 51st state — Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named in honor of Frederick Douglass — and allow it two senators and a voting representative in the House. The National Mall, the White House, Capitol Hill and some other federal property would remain under congressional jurisdiction, with the rest of the land becoming the new state.

The vote was 232 to 180, with every Republican and one Democrat voting “no.”

Republicans have long opposed the move to give congressional representation to the District of Columbia, where more than three-quarters of voters are registered Democrats, but the long-suffering movement for statehood, led by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, the capital’s lone nonvoting delegate, has been pressing for a vote on the matter for years.

When Democrats assumed the House majority last year, Ms. Norton secured a promise from leaders to bring up the bill for the first time in more than a quarter-century.

Anger over the Trump administration’s handling of racial justice protests — particularly the use of federal officers in the city and the violent removal of protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House — further galvanized advocates of statehood and cast a national spotlight on how much control the federal government retains over more than 700,000 residents in the District of Columbia.

“Over the last few months, the nation, and even the world, has witnessed the discriminatory and outrageous treatment of D.C. residents by the federal government,” Ms. Norton said on Friday on the House floor, where she was unable to cast a vote for the bill she championed. “The federal occupation of D.C. occurred solely because the president thought he could get away with it here. He was wrong.”

The bill, which passed along party lines, is not expected to become law. The White House issued a veto threat against it on Wednesday, declaring the measure unconstitutional.

Republicans in the Senate, where the legislation would have to meet a bipartisan 60-vote threshold to advance, have rejected the idea, arguing that if representation for its citizens was the sole issue, the District of Columbia should simply be absorbed into Maryland, another heavily Democratic state.

“Retrocession wouldn’t give the Democrats their real aim: two Democratic senators in perpetuity to rubber-stamp the swamp’s agenda, so you won’t hear them talk about it,” Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, said on Thursday in a lengthy diatribe on the floor.

He declared that Wyoming, a state with a smaller population, was a “well-rounded, working-class state” superior to Washington, which would amount to “an appendage of the federal government” full of lobbyists and civil servants. Wyoming is more than 80 percent white, while the majority of the District of Columbia is composed of people of color.

The arguments against statehood on the House floor barely shifted since the full chamber last debated the merits of granting statehood to Washington more than a quarter of a century ago. Opponents questioned the constitutional merits, arguing that the founding fathers intentionally did not establish the nation’s capital as a state. Others questioned whether the District of Columbia was geographically and economically viable to be a state.

“Our nation’s founders made it clear that D.C. is not meant to be a state,” said Representative Jody B. Hice, Republican of Georgia. “They thought about it, they debated it, and they rejected it.”

Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota was the sole Democrat to join Republicans in opposing the measure on Friday.

Top Democrats, several wearing masks with a symbol of the statehood movement, took to the floor to argue passionately for its passage, denouncing the disenfranchisement of Washington residents. Applause broke out on the floor as soon as the bill reached the necessary 218 threshold to pass.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at her weekly news conference in the Capitol, dismissed as shortsighted the Republican arguments that the new state would simply give Democrats a political advantage. Alaska and Hawaii, she pointed out, had entered the union as overwhelmingly Democratic and Republican states and then flipped politically.

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

“What the state is, that can change over time,” Ms. Pelosi said. “But the fact is, people in the District of Columbia pay taxes, fight wars, risk their lives for our democracy — and yet in this place, they have no vote in the House and Senate.”

The District of Columbia, where license plates read “Taxation without representation,” has long been burdened by a lack of federal representation.

The capital first earned three electoral votes and the right to vote for president in 1961 with the passage of the 23rd Amendment. The right to elect a nonvoting delegate came a decade later, but lawmakers could not agree on whether to give that delegate the right to vote, and the statehood legislation never survived a floor vote.

The disparity has gained renewed national attention during the coronavirus pandemic and the protests over racial injustice. In the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted in March, the District of Columbia received a small fraction of the funds doled out to states to help dull the economic effect of the virus because it was treated as a territory, despite customarily being granted funding as if it were a state.

And when the administration flooded the streets of Washington with National Guard forces from elsewhere and troops in riot gear during protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody, Ms. Bowser had few options this month because of how much control Congress maintains over the District of Columbia’s finances and laws.

“Denying D.C. statehood to over 700,000 residents, the majority of them black and brown, is systemic racism,” said Stasha Rhodes, campaign director of the pro-statehood group 51 for 51. “D.C. statehood is one of the most urgent civil rights and racial justice issues of our time — and we know we are on the right side of history.”

Ms. Bowser, a fifth-generation Washingtonian, told reporters at a news conference on Thursday that she was “born here without a vote, but I swear I will not die here without a vote.”

The House vote, she said, would lay the groundwork for another administration to make statehood law. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he would support the move.

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.