Democrats in the House and Senate are reviving their perennial push to make Washington, D.C. a state. With 17 senators signing onto a statehood bill in the Senate, they've got a historic number of original co-sponsors for the effort -- but in a Republican-led Congress, it's still unlikely to go anywhere.
Even so, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, said he introduced the bill because it's "simply not fair" that Washington, D.C. residents don't get full representation in Congress.
Washington, D.C. is "home to more than 600,000 people who build lives, families, and careers here," Carper said in a statement. "These Americans serve in our military, die defending our country, serve on our juries, and pay federal taxes. Yet, despite their civic contributions, they are not afforded a vote in either chamber of Congress."
The District only has one official representative in Congress -- Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. As a non-voting delegate on par with delegates from U.S. territories, she can't vote on the House floor. But unlike U.S. territories, Washington's residents pay federal taxes but have no voting representation in Congress.
Carper's bill, called the New Columbia Admission Act, would lay the groundwork for creating a new state called New Columbia. It would also designate the areas surrounding the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and the National Mall as the seat of the federal government, keeping them under control of Congress.
Democrats lament that their efforts to make the District a state have gone nowhere because of partisan politics. If it were to become a state, its voting representatives would almost surely be Democrats -- more than 90 percent of District voters voted for President Obama in the 2012 election.
The full House of Representatives last voted for a bill to make D.C. a state in 1993, but many Democrats and nearly every Republican voted against it. In 2010, lawmakers tried to work out a compromise to give D.C. one vote in the House; to address the GOP's concerns about giving Democrats another vote, the bill would have given another House vote to the deep-red state of Utah as well. The legislation was killed, however, when Republicans added amendments to loosen gun control in the District.