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Historic Vote Today in the House on D.C. Statehood; Its Time has Come

It's time that the District of Columbia [DC] became a state with representation in Congress. The bill that will be voted on today [H.R. 51] carves out a federal district that includes the White House, Congress, the National Mall, and a number of federal buildings. All the remaining land within the District would become a state with a population of about 700,000, larger than Wyoming or Vermont and just slightly smaller than Alaska.

The argument for statehood is straight forward; those living in the District are citizens who pay federal taxes and serve in the military, but have no voice in Congress. That should offend every American who believes in representative government. Moreover, recent events have reminded DC residents that they don't even have much control over what happens in their city and can be used for "political theater."

ABC News: "The district has some local power under the “Home Rule,” which was passed by Congress in 1973. The law grants the residents of Washington, D.C. the ability to manage affairs by electing a mayor and city council members, but gives final oversight of the district’s laws and budget to Congress. Advocates of D.C. statehood say the representational inadequacy of the “Home Rule” was highlighted in the aftermath of the recent descent of thousands of National Guardsmen and federal law enforcement officers on the nation's capital, none of whom were requested by the city's highest official, Mayor Bowser, who also had no oversight of them once they arrived. None of the were National Guardsmen and federal enforcement officers were ordered into the city and the management of their movement did not involve Bowser."

And, "Home Rule" has always been imaginary because Congress has invalidated laws and initiatives the D.C. government or its voters passed on vital issues such as gun control, abortion rights, and marijuana legalization.

Opponents insist that the District can't become a state without amending the Constitution because Article 1 calls for a "seat" of government, not more than "ten miles square." But that misses the point. H.R. 51 sets aside a "seat" of government while allowing the residents of DC to enjoy the fruits of representative democracy. There is no constitutional impediment to DC statehood as defined in H.R. 51.

Republican opposition is entirely political. Philosophically they agree with the notion of "no taxation without representation," but Mitch McConnell will kill the measure in the Senate after it passes in the House. Republicans fear that it would lead to two additional Democratic Senators, and they are probably correct, at least in the short term. But isn't that exactly how our democracy is supposed to work - citizens get to vote for those individuals who best represent their interests?

#news #politics

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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