THE NEUTRAL ZONE
This Friday, Congress is set to vote on a number of bills, one of which proposes statehood for the District of Columbia. The bill is expected to pass in the House vote on account of its 255 co-sponsors, all of whom are members of the Democratic party. If the bill does pass, it will be the first time Congress has approved legislation that grants full statehood and congressional representation. The Republican-majority Senate is not expected to uphold the bill.
President Trump, along with many other prominent Republicans, has been vocal about their opposition to the bill, citing that the largely Democratic-leaning population would add to the party’s strength in representation. “D.C. will never be a state,” Trump said, adding, “Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.”
Proponents of the statehood bill argue that Washington D.C., a city that has a 46% Black population, is currently being left out of the representative fold. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) argued that statehood would be a sign of respect for a city with a large Black population, as it would grant them a voice in the legislative process. The city had been predominantly Black up until recent gentrification has shrunk the population to below 50%. In a recent op-ed, Obama administration alumni Susan Rice stated, “Washington is the only national capital in the democratic world whose citizens lack equal voting rights. Its population exceeds 700,000, more than Wyoming’s and Vermont’s, and comparable to Delaware’s and Alaska’s.” Rice added that local residents pay more in federal income taxes per capita than any state in the country.
Outside of the District of Columbia, however, the majority of Americans do not support statehood for the nation’s capital. A recent Gallup poll discovered that 64% of Americans oppose statehood, while only 29% were in favor. More Americans support the notion of Puerto Rico becoming a state than support the District of Columbia gaining such representation, with 66% in favor. The notion that the nation’s capital should not be granted statehood was drafted into the constitution by the founding fathers. Article I, Section 8 of the constitution mandates that the capital should remain under the control of the federal government.
Why Isn’t Washington, D.C. a State? – History – 6/17/2020
“Opponents of Washington statehood make specious legal arguments, claiming that the Constitution mandates complete federal authority over the district and thus precludes statehood,” Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s former national security advisor, wrote in the New York Times. “But the Constitution merely states that the federal enclave cannot exceed 10 square miles; it does not prohibit carving out a limited area for government buildings that remains under federal control, while making the rest of the district into a state.”
Road ahead: Dueling policing bills and DC statehood to get votes – Roll Call – 6/22/2020
Under the measure, just a two-square-mile enclave encompassing the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and other federal buildings would remain under federal control. The bill, up for a vote on Friday, is expected to pass since it has 225 co-sponsors, all Democrats. This would be the first time a statehood bill has passed either chamber of Congress, a significant step for the movement. But the Republican-led Senate is not expected to take up the measure.
DC is closer to becoming a state now than it has ever been – Vox – 6/22/2020
For at least the next several months, the bill is highly unlikely to travel far beyond the House. There’s little chance that the Republican-controlled Senate will agree to give two senators to an overwhelmingly Democratic city. And even if the bill somehow managed to pass the Senate, President Donald Trump has said that Republicans would be “very, very stupid” to allow DC statehood. He’s all but certain to veto the bill.
Federal government offices should move if DC becomes state, Grenell says – Fox News – 6/22/2020
“DC was designed to be a temporary place where politicians would go for a short period of time—and then go back home to live under the laws they created,” he tweeted. “DC is too big, too entrenched, too insular, and too out of touch.” […] His tweet was in response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, who tweeted in favor of granting the district statehood, “Washington, D.C., has over 700,000 residents—more than Wyoming or Vermont—and its residents pay federal taxes. But they don’t get an equal voice in our government. It’s time for D.C. statehood.”
Richard Grenell on Twitter, 6/21/2020: If DC becomes a State then the Federal Government bureaucracies and offices should move to other States. No one State should get all the federal jobs.
Pete Buttigieg on Twitter, 6/23/2020: The fight for DC statehood is about racial, economic, and democratic justice for over 700k Americans who have equal worth and equally important needs, but not equal representation in congress.
Andrea Mitchell on Twitter, 6/23/2020: There hasn’t been a House debate on DC Statehood since 1993. One is scheduled for Friday. DC is only jurisdiction among 50 states & 4 territories where President has authority over National Guard which he can delegate to SecDef – remember Guard at Lincoln Memorial 3 weeks ago?
Don Moynihan on Twitter, 6/22/2020: The fact that the President and VP, the two most prominent residents of DC, vote in other states seems like a pretty compelling argument for DC statehood.