PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island’s claim to fame as the smallest state in the nation is in jeopardy.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday that brings Washington, D.C. one step closer to statehood.
But if Washington, D.C. becomes the 51st state in the union, it would also become the smallest, taking the title away from the Ocean State.
Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin both voted in favor of making Washington D.C. a state.
“Our democracy is built upon the sacred principle that every American deserves equal representation, no matter where they live,” Langevin said. “Regrettably, the 700,000 citizens who call Washington, D.C., home are denied that right, even though they pay taxes and serve our country just like my constituents in Rhode Island.”
Cicilline said denying the residents of Washington, D.C. a voice in Congress is “un-American.”
“America is the only democracy in the world that does not provide residents of its capital with voting representation in their national legislature,” Cicilline said.
If Washington, D.C. were to become a state, it would be granted one representative and two senators. Republicans argue the Democrats are politically motivated because they would pick up additional seats in Congress.
The bill now faces an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans will likely resort to a filibuster to slow things down.
Clocking in at 1,545 square miles, Rhode Island has been the smallest state since it joined the union in 1790, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Washington, D.C., however, is only 68 square miles, meaning if it were to become state, Rhode Island wouldn’t even compare in size.
Behind Rhode Island is Delaware, which is 2,489 square miles, and the size gap widens with Connecticut ranking third at 5,543 square miles.
Rhode Island used to also have the longest state name, that is, until residents voted to nix the “and Providence Plantations” last November.