Democratic lawmakers recently advanced a bill designed to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., over the objection of most Republicans.
Now, a Republican senator has introduced his own bill that would make the district part of another state instead.
“Make it part of Maryland”
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) put forward his bill in the chamber, which is evenly split between the two parties. Of course, the move is unlikely to attract much Democratic support since combining D.C. and neighboring Maryland would not give that party any new senators or representatives.
Nevertheless, Marshall defended his position in an announcement, stating: “If the Democrats want D.C. statehood, make it part of Maryland.”
The majority of D.C.’s residents are registered Democrats, leading GOP opponents of the plan to make it a state to assert that the effort is nothing more than a partisan power grab.
Furthermore, the U.S. Constitution states that the capital should be a federal district, not a state, in order to preserve its political independence.
Of course, proponents of the Democratic plan say that the district’s residents do not have direct representation in Congress. A constitutional amendment in 1961 gives D.C. three electoral votes.
“Goes against the Founding Fathers’ intent”
The latest effort to form a 51st state would limit the federal district to a few blocks where governmental buildings and offices are located, although it is unclear whether the district would retain its three electoral voters or they would be transferred to the new state.
Similarly, Marshall’s bill would apparently need to deal with the issue, since there would be too few residents in the much-smaller federal district to justify electoral votes.
In addition to Republican lawmakers who believe an annexation by Maryland or Virginia would be a better solution to D.C. statehood, experts including legal scholar Jonathan Turley have supported such an approach, which he calls a “retrocession.”
Although D.C. has more residents than the entire state of Wyoming, its landmass is much smaller than any of the nation’s states.
Plenty of GOP legislators have spoken out against the bill to make D.C. a state since House Democrats passed it, including Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who said: “I wonder, listening to the debate, if our friends on the other side of the aisle would be so passionate if Washington, D.C., were 90% Republican as [oppposed to] 90% Democrat. H.R. 51 goes against the Founding Fathers’ intent, and is unconstitutional, impractical, and a blatant power grab.”