Legislation has been introduced yet again in Congress to make the District of Columbia the 51st state.
The Washington DC Admission Act (S. 631) was introduced by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE). He has introduced it in every session of Congress since 2013.
Under the legislation, the area would inherit the name “District of Columbia” and remain under the control of Congress as mandated by the Constitution. It would designate the areas surrounding the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the National Mall as the seat of the federal government.
Similar legislation has also been introduced in the House in the past by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the lone rep in Congress for the District.
Carper calls the lack of statehood for DC “unjust,” saying it’s not fair that the residents who live there cannot vote and that the situation amounts to “taxation without representation.”
“Many of us will remember learning in grade school about the slogan ‘taxation without representation’ – the early colonists’ main grievance that led to the American Revolution and our country’s ultimate independence. Unfortunately, ‘taxation without representation’ is not just something students read about history books; it is the current reality for the over 700,000 people living in the District of Columbia,” said Carper.
“These men and women serve in our military, start families, own businesses and pay federal taxes just like their fellow Americans across the country, yet they currently lack full voting representation in either chamber of Congress. Lack of fair representation is inconsistent with the values we all share as Americans. It is incumbent upon those of us who enjoy the right and the privilege of full voting rights and representation in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives to take up the cause of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia and right this wrong.”
It’s easy to see the appeal for some in Congress. According to the latest Census estimates, DC is home to just over 700,000 residents. That’s a lot of potential votes for Members of Congress who are looking to retain their positions in election years.
As of the time of this writing, the bill has 28 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats, except for Senator Bernie Sanders, the lone independent from Vermont.
Past versions of the bill show the same – the co-sponsors supporting the bill were all Democrats and one independent, but no Republicans. That trend suggests the idea of giving statehood to DC is likely to only appeal to Democrats and have little, if any, bi-partisan support. In the current Congress, that would make it nearly impossible for the bill to gain traction.
Should the District of Columbia be granted statehood? Share your thoughts in the comments below.