Activists push Michigan Sen. Gary Peters to 'make history' by holding a hearing on DC statehood

Activists push Michigan Sen. Gary Peters to 'make history' by holding a hearing on DC statehood

Some Democrats would like to see both Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia achieve statehood, while some Republicans fear that giving statehood to either Puerto Rico or D.C. would benefit the Democratic Party. In his home state of Michigan, Democratic Sen. Gary Peters — who was reelected in 2020 — is hearing from proponents of D.C. statehood, including the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union.

According to Detroit News reporters Melissa Nann Burke and Beth LeBlanc, the Michigan ACLU and at least 100 others have sent Peters — who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee — a letter urging him to set a date for a hearing on D.C. statehood. The letter was led by the group 51 for 51 and was signed by

Our Revolution Michigan, Neighbors Organizing for Power & Equality and many others.

A bill proposing D.C. statehood has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, but in order for it to be considered in the U.S. Senate, Burke and LeBlanc note, it must go through the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Stasha Rhodes, campaign director for 51 for 51, told the Detroit News, "D.C. statehood has seldom gotten the time of day (it) deserves in the Senate, and Chairman Peters would make history by holding a hearing…. Washingtonians have waited for over 200 years for voting representation in Congress, and this moment can't be wasted."

Rhodes told the Detroit News she is confident that Peters is "going to stand up for this," although she notes that "we have not yet had a hearing date confirmed yet, and so, this is our attempt to make a public plea to make sure it happens."

The bill would make the District of Columbia the first state, although a small area of Washington, D.C. would continue to be a federal district — including the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Capitol Building, the National Mall and some federal monuments. The bill proposes renaming the District of Columbia Washington, Douglass Commonwealth in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Support for D.C. statehood, however, is not universal among Democratic senators. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has voiced his opposition to the bill, saying that make D.C. a state would require a constitutional amendment. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another centrist Democrat who sometimes votes with Republicans, has not said how she would vote on the bill.

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