Thirty-eight Senate Democrats joined in co-sponsoring a measure by US Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), that would advance a vote on bestowing statehood on the District of Columbia. A similar piece of legislation passed the US House last year paving the way for a critical vote to expand the United States to 51.
Carper led over three dozen other Democrat in the Senate to introduce the companion House bill that expand the US Senate by two seats and add at least one seat to the US House.
Should the vote pass and become law, it would endow the citizens of the District full representation in Congress and state sanctioned control over issues that affect the district.
A constitution would have to be created, as well as a state government. The creation of another level of bureaucracy will necessarily see taxes raised for residents of the new state.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 27, 2021
Bestowing statehood on the District has broad support among Democrats. A successful entry of the District into statehood would mean an expansion of Democrat majorities and complete control of the Senate with no need for any agreement on “power sharing” with the minority party.
“We are deeply indebted to Senator Carper for his unending efforts for D.C. statehood and his priority in reintroducing the Senate companion to our D.C. statehood bill this year with a record number of original cosponsors,” Washington, DC, Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said.
“In addition to Senator Carper’s good news, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer have already committed to bringing the DC statehood bill to the House floor again this Congress,” Norton added. “Democrats have the majority in the House and the Senate, and President Joe Biden supports DC statehood. This is the time we can finally correct this historic injustice and give DC residents the same rights as other taxpaying Americans.”
President Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said, “The President has supported DC statehood in the past; that certainly remains his position. But I don’t have anything for you on the timeline or next steps there.”
— Senator Tom Carper (@SenatorCarper) January 27, 2021
While Washington, DC, has a population that rivals states like Vermont, critics of the move argue that the effort is simply a disingenuous power grab that would tip the scales of power in the Democrats’ favor in the Legislative Branch.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters, “This is not about enfranchising people, this is about expanding the 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.”
The Founding Fathers decided it was imperative that the center of the federal government was not located in a state, divining preference to that location.
In 1787, while drafting the United States Constitution, the Framers decided the new nation should have a permanent capital but were reluctant to bestow that much influence – as the home to the nation’s Capitol – to one single state.
They also understood full-well the power struggles that would emerge from the battle between state sovereignty of the hosting state, and federal authority over federal lands and facilities in that hosting state.
So, they wrote in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution:
“[The Congress shall have Power] To exercise exclusive Legislation…over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may…become the Seat of the Government of the United States.”
The wrangling over the question of powers between a new state of the District of Columbia and the federal government appear to have been left unaddressed.