WASHINGTON, D.C. — Attorney General Karl A. Racine today released the following statement on today’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass H.R. 51, a bill to make the District of Columbia the 51st state:
“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives finally voted to grant the District of Columbia’s more than 700,000 residents one of the most fundamental American rights: equal representation.
“District residents, who number more than Wyoming and Vermont, pay more in federal taxes than any other states’ residents. Yet, for more than a century, we have been systematically denied voting members of Congress, a voice in national affairs, and true self-governance over local ones.
“Indeed, unlike every other U.S. jurisdiction, the District lacks a local prosecutor accountable to our residents. D.C.’s control over its local criminal justice system is consistently subject to federal interference, which has resulted in a higher per capita incarceration rate than any state. And the U.S. Congress can actually strike down any of our local Council’s legislative reforms.
“Make no mistake: The federal government’s disapproval of the District’s statehood rests on racism and politics. Throughout the 20th century, members of Congress routinely opposed empowering the District’s predominantly black population with the right to govern themselves. Statehood is the remedy to this type of oppression.
“I applaud the many activists for their tireless advocacy on behalf of statehood, which helped make this vote possible. Their victory arrives at a critical moment, following a string of incidents demonstrating the District’s lack of autonomy and proper representation.
“The Senate and the Administration failed to fully fund the District’s COVID-19 relief funding. We received less than half the amount provided to the states, even though 10 of my Republican Attorney General colleagues joined me to demand that Congress treat the District fairly.
“Not long after, Americans watched in horror as federal law enforcement—at the instruction of President Trump and Attorney General Barr—assaulted peaceful protesters in front of the White House. For days, President Trump treated the District like an occupied territory, deploying federal law enforcement and state National Guards into our streets to silence a national movement for black lives. Giving the District statehood would protect our residents from this type of federal overreach and mistreatment.
“Now is the time for the U.S. Senate to do what’s right, fair, and just: grant District residents the voting representation we deserve.”