By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden "strongly supports" an ongoing bid to grant statehood to the US capital, the White House said on Tuesday.
In a statement of administration policy, the White House said Washington, D.C.'s population of more than 700,000 people has been deprived of full congressional representation "for far too long."
"This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded," it said, explaining its support for a bill winding its way through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives where it is almost certain to pass along party lines.
"Washington, D.C. has a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as H.R. 51 proceeds through the legislative process," it added.
The bill, which would make the capital the 51st US state, is expected to come up for a vote this week after clearing committee without any Republican support on Wednesday.
Should it pass the House, it would mark the second time in a year that a bill to grant statehood to Washington has cleared the chamber. Last year the bill failed to be taken up in the then-Republican-controlled Senate.
But Democrats now hold the levers of power in the chamber after making electoral gains in November's national elections, splitting it 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris wielding a tie-breaking vote.
Still, with a legislative hurdle known as the filibuster still in place, it is unlikely the bill will clear the Senate. Under current rules 60 votes are needed to advance legislation in the Senate, meaning 10 Republicans would have to support the measure at least on the procedural vote, which appears for now unlikely.
Washington, D.C. has a population greater than the states of Wyoming and Vermont, and pays federal taxes even though it lacks voting representatives in the House and Senate.