With Democrats now in control of the House, Senate and White House, a bill to permanently alter the balance of power is being brought forward.
On Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware introduced a bill that would make the District of Columbia a state. The bill to make D.C. the 51st state was first proposed in 2013.
“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,” Carper said in a statement, according to The Hill.
Washington, D.C., has about 700,000 residents, and Carper’s claim is that those residents deserve to have two seats in the Senate as much as any state.
But Republicans argue that the whole idea is a political scheme because the residents of D.C. are overwhelmingly Democrats — which means the Senate would most likely add two Democrats to its ranks if the district became a state.
D.C. statehood goes against the wishes of the Founding Fathers, hurts South Carolina, and would empower the most radical agenda in modern American politics. pic.twitter.com/rIDJEcqUoh
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 2, 2020
After the Democrat-controlled House passed a bill last summer that would give statehood to D.C., Republicans that the bill was about partisan agendas and not the public interest.
“This is about expanding the Senate map to accommodate the most radical agenda that I’ve ever seen since I’ve been up here,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in July, according to CNN.
“There’s nothing these people won’t do to change the face of the country, and we’re tired of it,” Graham said.
“We’re gonna [have] to fight back. We fought back with [the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh. We’re gonna make sure Nancy Pelosi and all those who are driving her do not win the day.”
Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana said statehood for D.C. was not in the best interests of the wider nation that is often overlooked by those in the nation’s capital.
“If you get outside the Beltway and craziness here of Washington, D.C., the American people agree with us,” Daines said, also in July. “Sometimes I think it’s important for senators, congressmen — in fact, most the time — get out of this city, go out to where the real people are at across our country and ask them what they think.”
As things now stand, making D.C. a state would be difficult. As long as the Senate maintains the filibuster, Democrats would need 10 Republicans willing to join them.
However, if the filibuster is dismantled, Democrats could push home statehood for D.C. on a simple majority vote in which Vice President Kamala Harris could break a 50-50 tie, The Hill reported.
President Joe Biden has said he supports statehood for D.C.
Stasha Rhodes, campaign manager for the group “51 for 51,” linked the Capitol incursion with statehood for D.C., according to a Wednesday article in The New Republic.
“I think that our entrenched systems of white supremacy protected the men and women committing treason,” Rhodes said.
“And for over 200 years, the same racist institutions have disenfranchised the majority black and brown residents in D.C. who live in the heart of our government, but who also help keep it running. Any time D.C.’s lack of sovereignty is on display for the nation, it heightens the awareness and the calls for statehood.”
“In my view, it would be a devastating civil rights failure if we didn’t achieve statehood now,” Rhodes said.
“Democrats control Congress and the White House. Not making D.C. a state would be a decision. It would be a choice to not grant representation for over 700,000 residents of Washington, D.C. And maybe even more, it would also be a sign that Democrats, like Republicans, are not really interested in restoring and strengthening American democracy.
“We have all of the tools, all of the power necessary to end this injustice. So, I think it would be devastating if it didn’t happen.”
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