"Taxation without representation" is on Washington license plates because residents pay taxes but are not represented with a vote in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted during a Wednesday news conference at which she wore a mask with the number "51" on it.
"Washingtonians ... pay taxes, fight in our wars, contribute to the economic life of our country. But for centuries, they have been denied their right to representation," the California Democrat said.
Republicans, who in the last Congress held a majority in the Senate, blocked the bill's advance in the upper chamber last year by denying a vote on it. They have argued that the legislation mounts to a partisan effort by Democrats to pursue a progressive agenda and tip the scales in Congress in their favor.
If it becomes the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth -- as dubbed by the bill to commemorate Frederick Douglass, a 19th century American social reformer -- Washington, D.C., whose population is larger than that of Wyoming or Vermont, will have one voting representative in the House and two U.S. senators.
"The Democrats' D.C. statehood scheme is about two things: consolidating power and enacting radical policies," House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday on Twitter. "The American people see right through this blatant power grab."
The bill will leave places like the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and the National Mall out of the newly-created state, letting them remain as federal grounds and as the seat of the U.S. government.
The bill has already got the backing of the administration of President Joe Biden, whom 92 percent of D.C. voters voted for in the 2020 election, compared to just 5 percent who voted for then-President Donald Trump.
Congress should "provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood" for D.C. residents to have full voting representation in the House and Senate, the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement on Tuesday, formally offering the White House's support for the Democrats' long-shot bid.
Census Bureau data showed 46 percent of the District's residents are African Americans, potentially making the nation's capital the first state with a plurality Black population. That's why some advocates, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser -- herself a woman of color -- view the issue from the angle of racial justice and civil rights.
Noting that D.C. statehood has strong backing of the White House and that 45 senators have signed off on the legislation, Bowser in a tweet following the House vote urged "the 55 Senators who have not yet signed on in support of #DCStatehood to fulfill their responsibility to build a more perfect union."