Hoping to capitalize on Wednesday’s violent break-in at the US Capitol, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser wasted no time Thursday in pushing once again for statehood for the District of Columbia.
Bowser blamed her inability to call up the National Guard as one reason radicals were able to breach the Capitol. That power constitutionally is under the Executive Branch of the federal government. But if she were governor instead of just mayor of DC, Bowser claimed she would have that authority, according to The Hill.
“We would not be restricted in any way for how to deploy the Guard, so we wouldn’t have to clear a deployment plan with the secretary of the Army,” she said.
Bowser urged the incoming Biden administration to push for DC statehood in its first 100 days in office.
DC statehood is a decades-long goal of the residents living in the District, and since they overwhelmingly vote for Democrats in the presidential election, the idea is strongly supported by the Democratic Party.
Today the push from many of the 700,000 residents can be seen in the streets through the Revolutionary War slogan, “Taxation Without Representation” that’s displayed on District license plates.
The 23rd Amendment to the US Constitution ratified in 1961 allowed them to vote in the presidential election. But they also want the right to elect their own lawmakers to Congress.
Last June, the Democratic-controlled House approved DC statehood. Every Republican and one Democrat voted no.
The bill takes the ten square miles of Washington, DC as specified in the Constitution and reduces it to an enclave around the National Mall that would remain under Congressional control.
What’s left would become the 51st state called the “Washington Douglass Commonwealth” – a nod to both George Washington and Frederick Douglass.
But there’s a problem standing in the way of accomplishing that, namely the US Constitution. It takes more than the votes of senators and representatives to make that happen, even with a new Democrat-majority Senate. The federal city of Washington, DC was agreed to by America’s founders as the seat of the US government under the governance of the US Congress.
“The framers wanted to have the seat of the new federal government independent of any given state,” Roger Pilon with the Cato Institute earlier told CBN News. Pilon has twice testified before Congress about the implications of granting statehood to DC.
CHECK OUT the CBN PETITION to Stop Unconstitutional Statehood
“They didn’t want any given state to be disproportionately influential on the new government,” Pilon continued.
It was meant to be a neutral ground to conduct the people’s business. And for people living in the district, Congress would serve as their local government.
To change all of that, a new amendment to the US Constitution would have to be ratified. After passing Congress, it would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Since the District consistently votes 80%-plus for Democratic candidates, as a new state it’s a foregone conclusion that two more Democratic senators would be elected. All this makes the statehood debate highly political.
“This proposal is plainly nothing but a Democratic power grab,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) speaking on the Senate floor about the House bill.
“Our cause for statehood is certainly about making sure we have two voting senators to speak up for us and making sure that our congresswoman has a vote,” said Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser at a press conference about statehood.
“This is not about enfranchising people, this is about expanding a Senate map to accommodate the most radical agenda that I’ve ever seen since I’ve been up here – getting more radical by the day,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in opposition to the legislation.
“There’s nothing these people won’t do to change the face of the country and we’re tired of it. We’re gonna fight back,” Graham continued.
There are apolitical options if DC residents truly just want representation. They could push to return parts of the district to Maryland, which ceded land to create the district in the first place, but here’s the rub – that solution wouldn’t allow for the addition of two new US senators.
In practical matters, under the House plan passed last summer, the federal government would become dependent on the 51st state for essentials like utilities, snow removal, and fire services.
Pilon says recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations reveal how a DC state could possibly wreak havoc as the temptation to “play politics” may overwhelm the common good.
“One can imagine scenarios that would be quite uncomfortable. For example, if you had the District of Columbia with its own state government entirely Democratic and you had a president who was Republican in the White House. You could imagine the temptation to, for example, withhold services that would be essential for the federal government. Now, potentially you could have the federal government assert its authority over this state but it would raise very ticklish issues that don’t have to be raised now because the Congress has exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia,” Pilon explained.
With a new Democrat-controlled Senate and a new President supporting it, the quest for DC statehood likely will move ahead quickly in the coming weeks.
The last attempt to ratify an amendment to actually make it happen came in 1978 when Democrats led Congress and Jimmy Carter occupied the White House. They passed a constitutional amendment aimed at giving DC voting representation in Congress, but by the end of the seven-year deadline, only 16 states had approved the amendment. The most recent polling from 2020 shows 64 percent of Americans still oppose adding DC as a state.