March 24, 2021

DC Statehood

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On Monday, “the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing to consider H.R. 51, a bill sponsored by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) that would grant statehood to D.C.C-Span

Read our prior coverage of DC statehood. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports DC statehood, arguing that DC residents deserve representation and that there is historical precedent for the addition.

“Both parties have partisan reasons for their positions on D.C. statehood. The difference is that Democrats also have a principled reason, while the ‘principles’ trotted out to justify Republican opposition are farcical. The principled arguments for statehood are twofold. First, the district’s 700,000 American citizens lack representation in Congress, a violation of democratic rights. Second, the Senate as a whole massively overrepresents white and rural areas, an imbalance that would be reduced slightly, though not eliminated, by adding a majority-minority state…

“When Republicans attempt to make principled arguments against statehood, they usually grasp for some distinction between the district’s demographic character and that of the 50 current states. Last year, Senator Tom Cotton argued that Wyoming is deserving of statehood but D.C. is not, because the former ‘has three times as many workers in mining, logging, and construction and ten times as many workers in manufacturing.’…

“Did the Founders believe resource extraction is a key qualification for representation? Would any modern theorist of democracy argue that people with jobs in mining or logging deserve political rights that should be denied to shopkeepers or cab drivers? The question answers itself.”
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) made the bizarre argument that ‘DC wants the benefits of a state without actually having to operate like one.’ It was a confusing statement made only more confusing when he elaborated on what that meant—that ‘DC would be the only state without an airport, without a car dealership, without a capital city, without a landfill.’ Apart from the fact that DC does, indeed, have numerous car dealerships, nowhere in the Constitution does it state that dealerships—or landfills and airports—are a requirement for statehood.”
Matt Cohen, Mother Jones

“[Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) is] not wrong that granting statehood to the 693,000 residents of D.C. would almost certainly increase the number of Democrats in the Senate by two. He’s also not wrong that this is a specific aim of many of the idea’s proponents. It’s just a bit ironic that a senator from a state created for exactly the same reason might take issue on this particular point…

“Over the span of eight months from November 1889 to July 1890, the country added six new states: Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Washington, Wyoming and Rounds’s South Dakota… All 12 new senators were Republican… Of those 12 seats added during that stretch from 1889 to 1890, Republicans still hold nine seats — a six-seat advantage for the party… It is certainly not without precedent for a state to be added for partisan benefit — something that the senator from South Dakota, of all places, should know.”
Philip Bump, Washington Post

“There was a time relatively recently in which plenty of Republicans thought that ‘taxation without representation’ in the District was a bad look. Both conservative icon Barry Goldwater and former president Richard M. Nixon favored D.C. statehood. The 1972 and 1976 Republican Party platforms endorsed voting rights for Washington in the House and Senate. And both chambers of Congress in 1978 passed a proposed constitutional amendment (i.e. with two-thirds majorities) to that effect, with half of GOP senators voting for it…

“It’s fair to argue this is about partisan advantage, but that doesn’t mean it’s ‘radical,’ and it doesn’t address the merits of the situation.”
Aaron Blake, Washington Post

From the Right

The right opposes DC statehood, arguing that Democrats are attempting a partisan power grab and that there are alternatives to provide representation to DC residents.

The right opposes DC statehood, arguing that Democrats are attempting a partisan power grab and that there are alternatives to provide representation to DC residents.

[The founders] created a federal district for the distinct purpose of denying it statehood. First, because they were concerned about the seat of federal power being controlled by a hostile or intrusive state government. Second, because they knew that if the capital were in a state — much less its own state — the people would vote to grow and accumulate federal power. Both situations were incompatible with the proper separation of powers and state rights…

“People like to argue that the Founders never anticipated that millions of Americans would be living and working in the District. Indeed, the more powerful the permanent political class in D.C. becomes, the more reason we have to deny it statehood… And if D.C. residents don’t like it, they can always move to the other side of the border.”
David Harsanyi, National Review

“When Congress gives up power over land acquired [for the capital], there is already a precedent for what becomes of it. In 1847, Congress gave back what is today most of Arlington County and Alexandria to the original donor state, Virginia. It had been Virginia land, and it became so again when Congress relinquished it…

“The land on which the district stands now all belonged to Maryland before Congress took plenary power over it and made it the seat of the national government. Thus, if the federal government is to give up its federal district (or some part of it), it should be given to Maryland

“Washington would become [the] largest city in Maryland. We are sorry to say it, but to many locals, and for most practical purposes, it already is. After retrocession, residents would be represented by two senators — namely, Maryland's two senators, who would obviously have to court district voters in order to win (at least in a Democratic primary). All residents would also acquire voting representation in the U.S. House, and Maryland would certainly gain one more congressional seat… This is a fair way to give representation to Washingtonians.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“The latest polling on the issue of DC statehood found that only 29% of respondents supported the idea. 16% weren’t sure and a majority of 55% were firmly opposed. Some other polls that were worded more favorably for Democrats have shown larger levels of support, but the best they manage is a slim plurality. This is not an idea supported by the majority of the country.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“In 1819, southerners wanted to admit Missouri as a slave state. This would upend the balance of power in Congress, since there were 11 free states and 11 slave states. Ultimately, Congress worked out a compromise, admitting Missouri as a slave state but drawing a line at the 36°30′ parallel, allowing slavery below that line but banning it above that line (except in Missouri). At the same time, the Union admitted Maine as a free state, to maintain the balance of power…

“Compromises like this maintained the balance of power amid increasingly bitter partisanship. After Texas joined the Union as a slave state (but with territories not committed to slavery) in 1845, Congress admitted California as a free state to balance the Lone Star State in the Compromise of 1850…

“Any move to add more states to the Union should proceed in a similar way as the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850. If Washington, D.C., would become a deep-blue state, then Congress must find a deep-red state to balance it out.”
Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

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