On June 26th, 2020 the US House of Representatives passed a bill granting statehood to Washington DC.
Does this mean that Washington DC will now become the 51st state?
First, the bill must be introduced and voted on in the Senate. Then it must be signed into law by the president. Even if that were to happen, statehood is likely to be challenged as unconstitutional. Our Constitution states the nation’s capital will be in a neutral federal district governed by Congress.
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What do Washington D.C. Residents Want?
DC residents have been protesting their lack of voting rights since the early 1800s. They were not allowed to vote in Presidential elections until the passage of the 23rdAmendment in 1961. But still, they have no voting representation in Congress.
For the last 20 years, DC’s drivers have been using the “Taxation Without Representation” motto on their license plates. The license plate was designed to show members of Congress the frustration and anger Washingtonians feel about being disenfranchised.
Close to 90% of DC residents favor statehood. These are some of their reasons:
- Washingtonians pay the highest per capita Federal Income Tax, but have no say in how it is spent.
- They serve in the military but have no say in declaring war.
- They have little say in how their city is governed, since all local laws and budgets must be approved by Congress.
- They are often given fewer federal resources than people who live in states. (including recent coronavirus funding.)
- The president can order federal troops into the city with little political oppostion becasue there are no senators or members of congress to protest.
Arguments for Statehood
- All citizens have a right to be represented in government.
- DCs population is slightly over 700,000 people. That is higher than the population of Vermont or Wyoming and about the same as Alaska.
- No other world nation denies voting rights to the citizen of it’s capital.
- The small part of Washington DC that contains the White House, Capital and other federal buildings can remain a federal district. The large residential areas can become a new state. That way it’s constitutional.
Arguments Against Statehood
- The US Constitution prevents the Washingston DC from being a state. James Madison asserted that if the nation’s capital were in a state, that state would have too much power. Members of Congress would be likely to favor it because they lived there part time. This would not be fair to other states.
- The better option is for the residential portion of Washington DC to be returned to Maryland, rather than become a new state.
- Why upset the status quo? Fifty is a good number. Who wants to redesign the flag?
- DC Statehood is just a political ploy for the Democrats to gain additional power in the Senate. The new state would get 2 Senators, and they would most likely be Democrats.
- Utilities and services need to be maintained for the federal district. Who would plow the roads, put out fires, take away trash, etc? Would the Federal Government need to depend on the new state to do this? If so it would give the state too much power.
What do you think?
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