WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 51 which would make the District of Columbia a state.
“Today’s vote is a needed step toward making the District a state. It has also elevated our fight for representation, allowing others across the country to hear our calls for the right to participate in America’s democracy,” said AG Racine. “As the District’s chief legal officer, I know Congress has the constitutional authority to make the District a state. In fact, Congress has created 37 new states through legislative action and it has already twice shrunk the size of the federal district. Yet, we remain residents of the only national democratic capital in the world without equal representation and voting rights.
“As the legislation now moves to the Senate, I encourage senators to be courageous and take partisanship out of this debate. Statehood for the District isn’t about scoring political wins by villainizing the District or reducing our quest for representation to merely another partisan game. We’re talking about more than 700,000 real lives. Giving us an equal voice strengthens our democracy.
“The District is a diverse, vibrant community. We have nearly 140,000 children and more than 4,000 teachers. We have more than 76,000 small businesses that employ nearly 250,000 people. Nearly 65 percent of small businesses in the District are minority owned. Nearly 50 percent of our residents are Black and 12 percent of District families live in poverty. Yet none of these District residents have a voting member of Congress. We deserve equal rights and true representation. Yet once again, our rights and freedoms are left to others to decide.”
Last week, AG Racine led a coalition of 24 attorneys general in pushing back against the misguided arguments from a group of Republican attorneys general who the day before sent congressional leaders a letter opposing statehood.