Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., is set to press a bipartisan group of senators to back statehood for Washington, D.C.
According to Forbes, Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-Independent, is known to have close relationships with Republicans.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., told Forbes that Lieberman will reach out to undecided Democrats and Republicans in an attempt to convince them to vote for the bill.
Carper also said he wants a hearing on statehood in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and has asked Lieberman to testify, which he said “could be very powerful” with senators in both parties.
And Lieberman acknowledged that Carper asked him on Wednesday to persuade senators and testify on behalf of statehood, and that he said he “would be glad to,” Forbes reported.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. described Lieberman as one of his “dearest friends.” However, he said Lieberman has “zero chance” of convincing him to support statehood for D.C.
Graham called the bill “terrible” and a “power-grab” and expressed support for a proposal to make D.C. a part of Maryland.
The House on Thursday is set to approve, for the second time in less than a year, legislation making D.C. the 51st state. Reuters reported the move is sure to further inflame tensions between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
The wire service noted the population of D.C. is heavily Democrat. As a result, it would likely elect two Democrats to the Senate if it is declared a state. The move would potentially change which party controls the Senate, which is now split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats.
The Democrats, who have been pushing for D.C. statehood for decades, hope to take advantage of last November’s election of President Joe Biden as well as control of the Senate and House to admit a new state for the first time since 1959, when Alaska and Hawaii joined the union.
The new state would be named “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth” after George Washington and Frederick Douglass, a former enslaved person who became a famous abolitionist.
But Republicans accuse Democrats of a “power grab,” and are expected to block the bill in the Senate, where 60 of 100 members need to agree to advance most legislation.
Reuters pointed out that D.C. has only one member of Congress – a House “delegate” who is not permitted to vote on legislation.
Residents, however, still pay federal taxes.
If it does become a state, D.C. would maintain its three electoral votes, which are used in the presidential election process since states’ electoral votes are based on population.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., has argued against Democrats’ call for statehood, pointing out that the nation’s founding fathers wanted the capital to remain independent of any state.