A bill that would make Washington, D.C. a state has passed the House Oversight and Reform Committee on a party-line vote, clearing the way for the full House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), to vote on the measure.
According to The Hill, the committee voted 25–19 to advance the bill, which is likely to pass narrowly in Congress’ lower chamber without any Republican votes.
A counterpart bill in the Senate would need 60 votes, including 10 from Republicans, to pass, which is highly unlikely.
Washington, D.C. was always a federal district, not a state, because it contained the nation’s capital, but the bill would reportedly shrink the district to a few blocks of government buildings and then make the rest of the territory a state.
Pros and cons
Proponents of statehood argue that the district’s 700,000 residents are not being represented equally with others in America. The district does not have representation in Congress, but does have three electoral votes in presidential elections, as The Hill notes.
Those who oppose D.C. statehood argue that it is a power grab by Democrats because the district leans heavily to the left. Moreover, the U.S. Constitution explicitly states that D.C. is not to be a state and should be represented by “the whole Congress,” not by specific representatives.
Worse still, if the 23rd Amendment granting electoral votes to the district is not repealed before making D.C. a state, it would give just a few hundred residents in the shrunken district unprecedented power during presidential elections. This issue is not dealt with in the bill currently before Congress.
It’s understandable that residents of D.C. — which number more than the tiniest states (by population) of Wyoming and Vermont — would want equal representation in Congress, but it seems like it shouldn’t be legal to overrule the Constitution without amending it.
Go through proper channels
Americans overall have long opposed D.C. statehood, and a 1978 constitutional amendment passed by Congress to give D.C. representatives and senators failed to get the necessary two-thirds of states to ratify it; only 16 did, according to the Boston Globe.
In contrast, the majority of Americans do favor allowing Puerto Rico to become a state, the Globe notes.
The argument that the effort is a mere power grab doesn’t make a lot of sense at first glance: D.C. is only asking for the same representation everyone else in the country has. How is that grabbing power?
It all becomes clearer, though, when it is looked at through this lens: Democrats are once again cutting corners and ignoring the Constitution because they want more control — and a way to keep it indefinitely.