There is “no doubt” that a bill to approve statehood for the District of Columbia will clear the Democrat-controlled House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Thursday.
“We passed it last Congress, and we’ll pass it this Congress,” the Maryland Democrat said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I doubt that we’re going to lose a Democrat.”
The Senate will not likely agree to the measure, as it would need 60 votes and Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the push, saying it is an unconstitutional power grab that would allow two additional Democrat senators and would widen the majority party’s lead in the chamber.
The bill, which is expected to come up for a vote at around noon calls for the new state to be named “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth” after George Washington, the first U.S. president, and Frederick Douglass, a former enslaved person who became a famous abolitionist.
Hoyer on Thursday said that the district has 712,000 residents, is larger than two states, and pays a significant amount of taxes to the federal government.
“There is no reason why the residents of the District of Columbia should not be equal citizens with every other citizen and therefore, admitted as a state,” said Hoyer.
He added that Republicans oppose the move for political reasons, not because of principle.
“There is no principled reason why the residents of the District of Columbia should not have a voting member in the parliament of their country as every other nation in the world has,” said Hoyer. “Only America has its nation’s capital unrepresented by a voting member in its parliament and in our case the Congress of the United States.”
Hoyer said he hopes there is a different situation this time when it comes to voting for D.C. statehood.
“First of all, we have (Senate) Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who is for this, and secondly, we have the president of the United States who is for this, and he will sign it,” said Hoyer. “The only impediment is having the number of Senate Republicans vote on principle as opposed to voting on politics. Having said that, we all know that historically, states have been admitted very much on political rationale rather than principled rationale.”
Meanwhile, there are some bills being worked on that do have a chance where there could be bipartisan support, said Hoyer.
“I think certainly the infrastructure bill is one of those,” he said. “Of course, Donald Trump said when he ran for president he wanted to see a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. We met with him at the White House during the course of his presidency. He said he wanted to see a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. He never took any steps to do that. The Republicans never took any steps to put such a bill on the floor and move it forward. However, they have said they’re for infrastructure.”
Hoyer added that there are several bills that are supported by people from both parties nationally, and he hopes that Senate Republicans will start listening to their constituents.
“Our friends see opposition to Biden before they see merits in legislation the American people want,” said Hoyer. “It’s a shame.”
There is also some optimism on a bipartisan bill on police reform, said Hoyer, noting that Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is trying to work with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. on a compromise on a bill Scott has already introduced.
“If they do, we will certainly be glad to consider that, because we need to pass legislation to respond to this pandemic of violence being perpetrated against people of color in our country,” said Hoyer.