Washington, D.C. statehood back up for debate

On Thursday Senate Democrats reintroduced a bill that would grant statehood to Washington, D.C. (https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/536052-senate-democrats-reintroduce-dc-statehood-bill). Democrats had previously introduced a similar bill back in 2013. This bill would give citizens of Washington, D.C. full representation in Congress and authority over local issues.

Supporters of this bill argue that D.C. residents are missing out on constitutional representation, especially considering that the city has a larger population than Wyoming and Vermont. Opponents of the bill argue that this bill would violate the original intentions of the Founding Fathers for the capital city. Senator Tom Carper said, "This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue; it’s an American issue because the lack of fair representation for D.C. residents is clearly inconsistent with the values on which this country was founded."

The establishment of a capital district was authorized by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. President Washington wanted the city to be distinct from the other states. Washington, D.C. was initially approved in 1790 with the passage of the Residence Act and the city was subsequently founded in 1791. Land was later added from Maryland and Virginia in 1801. At this same time residents began calling for representation, asking for at least one senator and respective representatives in the House. The 23rd Amendment was passed in 1961, allowing residents of the city to veto in presidential elections, however the city does not have a voting member of Congress.

The modern D.C. statehood movement dates back to the 1980’s when a formal constitutional convention was held in 1982, with a second constitutional convention coming in 1987, but both efforts were shot down by Congress. Congressional votes were also held in 1993 and 2013, but faced similar results. Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden have all been vocal supporters of statehood for both Washington, D.C. and U.S. territory, Puerto Rico. The original name of the proposed new state was New Columbia, but it has now been changed to The State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth after Frederick Douglass.

Should Washington, D.C. become a state or should the area be redistricted with the larger population areas returning to Maryland and Virginia respectively?

Image Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

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