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‘Statehood is in my DNA’: Pelosi points to father’s legacy in defence of DC vote

Alex Woodward
·2-min read
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds up a photograph of her father meeting Eleanor Roosevelt as the House prepared to vote on Washington DC statehood, which Ms Pelosi said is in her ‘DNA’. (House Speaker)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds up a photograph of her father meeting Eleanor Roosevelt as the House prepared to vote on Washington DC statehood, which Ms Pelosi said is in her ‘DNA’. (House Speaker)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has often invoked the career of her late father, a former congressman from Maryland, and his role as the “unofficial mayor” of Washington DC.

Before the House of Representatives voted for the second time to make the nation’s capital city the 51st state, the California Democrat said the issue is “in my DNA”.

Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr, was chair of the House appropriations subcommittee on DC, which was renamed in 2007 but continues to have jurisdiction over the city.

“He did not like that,” Ms Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. “He was a big believer of home rule. So, I often say that statehood for the District of Colombia is in my DNA.”

She held up a photograph of her father meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt, then First Lady of the US, who testified about the state of welfare conditions in the city.

The House speaker defended passage of the White House-backed measure to incorporate DC as a state, adding that “these residents pay taxes, fight in our wars, power our economy, yet do not have a full voice in our democracy.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the White House said DC residents have been subject to “taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our nation was founded.”

“Establishing the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just,” the statement said. “Washington DC 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 measure was passed in the House on party lines on Thursday, setting up its first-ever hearing on the Senate floor, where it will face overwhelming GOP opposition.

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