Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of the Washington, D.C. Admission Act
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I thank the gentlelady for yielding and for her tremendous leadership over time to remove obstacles of participation to our democracy. Whether it's Voting Rights Act for all, or whether it's observing the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote, and whether it is about giving full participation in our democracy to the District of Columbia, I'm proud to join her in wearing this mask. It says 51st, and that's why this legislation is H.R. 51, D.C. statehood, which I will talk about now.
But Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has been brilliant, relentless, persistent, dissatisfied about the lack of full participation for her constituents in the work in Congress. So, I salute her, as the patron saint and guiding star of D.C. statehood, even before she came to Congress, but since she came to Congress. And she has worked tirelessly and relentlessly to build historic support for this bill. And you give us the honor of participating in this historic vote when the House of Representatives, for the first time, will vote on statehood for the District.
D.C. statehood, Mr. Speaker, is an official and personal priority for me. My colleagues have heard me say this, but I'll say it again: when I was born, my father was a Member of Congress from Baltimore, Maryland. He was on the Appropriations Committee, and he served as the Chair of the D.C. Appropriations Subcommittee. At the time, they tell me, that person would be regarded as the mayor of – unofficial mayor of Washington because that Appropriations Committee made all the decisions, so many decisions for the District of Columbia.
He was a big supporter of home rule – seeing from that perspective the unfairness of it all, a big supporter of home rule. So, in any event, he did his job in a way to try to make a path. A path: later home rule, and later a mayor and the rest and, now, to where we are now.
So, yesterday, someone said, ‘Can you find middle ground?’ This is middle ground, the status quo is. We have to go forward.
And I, later, had the privilege of serving on the Appropriations Committee, on the District of Columbia Subcommittee, and I saw the obstacles to home rule that some in our Congress would put forth, diminishing – diminishing the self-determination that the people of the District of Columbia should have.
Statehood for the District is about showing respect for our democracy. It's not just about the District. It's about our democracy, for the American people and for our U.S. Constitution. The Constitution begins with our beautiful Preamble: ‘We the People,’ setting out our Founders' vision of a government of, by and for the people of the United States. It doesn't say, ‘Except for the District of Columbia.’
Yet, for more than two centuries, the residents of Washington, D.C. have been denied their full right to fully participate in our democracy. Instead, they have been dealt the injustice of paying taxes, serving in the military and contributing to the economic power of our nation while being denied the full enfranchisement that is their right. Serving in the military, fighting, risking their lives for our democracy; fundamental to that democracy is representative government. They were willing to risk their lives for a principle, for a value, for our democracy, while where they live was being denied that full opportunity.
Today, by passing H.R. 51, Washington, D.C. Admission Act, to admit the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth – State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth to the Union. That would be Frederick Douglass, from Maryland, who lived in District of Columbia, an abolitionist and a suffragist, actually. He was in Seneca Falls at the conference of women, coming together for women having the right to vote. So much about our democracy and voting for all Americans.
In doing so today, we will bring our nation closer to the founding ideals that all are created equal and all deserve a say in our democracy. With that, I urge a bipartisan vote, I hope, but a strong vote in the House for this very important legislation, legislation important to our democracy, to our Constitution.
And I thank, again, and salute, Eleanor Holmes Norton for her leadership, working with our distinguished leader, Mr. Hoyer, who has brought this as a priority. We’re proud that this is on the Floor today.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back