Summary: H.R.51 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House (06/26/2020)

Washington, D.C. Admission Act

This bill admits certain portions of Washington, DC as the 51st state. The bill defines state as the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.

TITLE I--STATE OF WASHINGTON, D.C.

Subtitle A--Procedures for Admission

(Sec. 101) This subtitle provides for admission into the United States of the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, on an equal footing with the other states.

The state's constitution shall always be republican in form and shall not be repugnant to the U.S. Constitution or the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

(Sec. 102) The Mayor of the District of Columbia must issue a proclamation for the first elections to Congress of two Senators and one Representative from the state.

A special rule is established for the election of the Senators. The proclamation must provide for a primary and general election that allows the two Senators and one Representative to be elected by qualified District voters.

In addition, this subtitle (1) permanently increases membership in the House of Representatives from 435 to 436 Members; and (2) entitles the state to one Representative upon its admission into the Union, until the first apportionment of Members of Congress after admission to statehood.

(Sec. 103) The President must issue a proclamation announcing the results of the election of the two Senators and one Representative and upon such issuance, the state shall be declared admitted into the Union.

Subtitle B--Seat of Government of the United States

(Sec. 111) This subtitle declares that the state shall consists of all of District territory as of enactment of this bill, with specified exclusions for federal buildings and monuments, including the principal federal monuments, the White House, the Capitol Building, the U.S. Supreme Court Building, and the federal executive, legislative, and judicial office buildings located adjacent to the Mall and the Capitol Building,

District territory excluded from the state shall be known as the Capital and shall be the seat of the federal government. The John A. Wilson Building shall not be included in the Capital. The entirety of the Frances Perkins Building, including any portion of the building located north of D Street NW, shall be included in the Capital.

(Sec. 113) The state and the Capital shall each maintain title and jurisdiction over all real and personal property held by them before the state was admitted into the Union.

(Sec. 114) This section requires current District laws to apply in the Capital.

(Sec. 115) This section renames the District of Columbia National Guard as the Capital National Guard and makes it an exclusive federal entity for the Capital.

(Sec. 116) This section declares that the Capital is neither a government nor a body corporate for municipal purposes.

Subtitle C--General Provisions Relating to Laws of State

(Sec. 121) This subtitle declares that

  • the legislative powers of the state extend to all rightful subjects;
  • members of District executive, legislative, and judicial offices are members of the respective state offices;
  • generally, federal laws that apply to the states apply to the state;
  • the state is the successor to the District for interstate compacts;
  • the U.S. Capitol Police, the U.S. Park Police, and the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division may not enforce state laws, except as authorized by the state;
  • the state shall continue all pending legal proceedings; and
  • this bill does not affect U.S. nationality.

(Sec. 123) This section prohibits the state from imposing taxes on federal property, except as Congress permits.

TITLE II--INTERESTS OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Subtitle A--Federal Property

(Sec. 201) This subtitle maintains the federal government's authority over military lands and specified other property.

Subtitle B--Federal Courts

(Sec. 211) This subtitle prospectively requires each circuit judge to reside within the circuit for which the judge was appointed at the time of appointment and thereafter while in active service. In addition, judges for the federal judicial circuit must reside within 50 miles of the Capital.

Furthermore, district judges, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Marshals, and clerks of district courts must reside in the district or one of the districts for which the individual was appointed.

(Sec. 212) This section renames (1) the District judicial circuit the Capital circuit consisting of the Capital and the state; and (2) the District judicial district the Washington, Douglass Commonwealth and the Capital. It also requires the court of such district to hold proceedings in the Capital.

(Sec. 214) This section requires the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency to provide pretrial services for the judicial district until the state certifies it has in effect laws providing for pretrial services.

Subtitle C--Federal Elections

(Sec. 221) This subtitle requires states, if the application is received by the state within 30 days before such election, to permit certain absent Capital voters to (1) use absentee registration procedures, (2) vote by absentee ballot in federal elections, and (3) accept any otherwise valid voter registration application from such voter. In addition, it urges states to afford maximum access to the polls by such voters.

(Sec. 222) This section abolishes the Office of Delegate to the House of Representatives from the District.

(Sec. 223) This section provides for expedited consideration of a joint resolution repealing the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution which provides for the appointment of electors of the President and Vice-President.

TITLE III--CONTINUATION OF CERTAIN AUTHORITIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Subtitle A--Employee Benefits

(Sec. 301) This subtitle continues existing federal or District benefit payments to individuals under certain retirement programs.

Subtitle B--Agencies

(Sec. 311) This subtitle continues the existing operations or funding for

  • the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, including allowing the state to rename the service after its admission into the Union;
  • federal benefits for the service's employees;
  • assigning of assistant U.S. Attorneys to the state for criminal prosecutions in its name;
  • providing service by the U.S. Marshall Service to the state's courts and court system, except that the President is prohibited from appointing a U.S. Marshall for any state court;
  • monitoring of individuals convicted of felonies under District law housed in Bureau of Prisons or Department of Corrections facilities;
  • the U.S. Parole Commission's authority over felons imprisoned under District law before and after the state's admission; and
  • the District courts and court system, including federal benefits for their employees.

Furthermore, this subtitle renames the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia as the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for Washington, Douglass Commonwealth after the state is admitted into the Union.

Subtitle C--Other Programs and Authorities

(Sec. 321) This subtitle continues to apply to the state or the Capital, among other requirements

  • college tuition assistance, including the state's designated public institution of higher education as the successor to the University of the District of Columbia;
  • tuition assistance for public schools and public charter schools;
  • the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage;
  • residency requirements of the National Capital Planning Commission in addition to decreasing its membership from five to four with each member being appointed by the President and one being a resident of the state; and
  • the role of the Army Corps of Engineers in supplying water to the state or the Capital.

In addition, this subtitle

  • replaces District with Capital with respect to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts' duty to advise on the Capital 's location of statues, fountains, and monuments in the public squares, streets, and parks; and
  • declares that the Commemorative Works Act only applies to commemorative works in the Capital and its environs.

The location of any person in the Capital or the state after its admission is deemed to satisfy any existing requirements under any law that the person be located in the District.

The continuation of federal authorities and responsibilities in these subtitles shall cease once the state certifies that it is prepared to take over these authorities and responsibilities.

TITLE IV--GENERAL PROVISIONS

(Sec. 402) This section establishes the Statehood Transition Commission to advise the President, Congress, and the executive and legislative authorities of the District concerning an orderly transition to statehood for the District and to a reduced geographical size of the seat of the federal government, including with respect to property, funding, programs, projects, and activities.