Backed by Joe Biden, encouraged by his control of Congress, Democrats on Monday stepped up their campaign to give statehood to the federal capital of Washington, a goal that could upset the balance of power in the United States.
“With the Democrats in the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House, we were nowhere near a state,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the city in the House of Commons, during a long-awaited hearing.
Since the Federal Capital is not a state, this parliamentarian has observer status only and cannot vote in Congress.
Including texts that directly interest its constituents, such as those discussed Monday in the committee: a bill that would make Washington the 51st U.S. state.
Democrats denounce the violation of the basic rights of its residents, and even discontent is recorded in Washington on official license plates: “Taxes Without Representation” (Taxes Without Elected Officials).
Its 700,000-plus residents pay their federal taxes – more than any other American nation per person, Democrats insist – and they are drafted under a banner and can vote in the presidential election. But they do not have a voice in Congress.
In June 2020, the House of Representatives has already passed a bill granting Washington state status. A historical precedent that he got thanks only to the Democratic votes. It remained a dead letter in the Senate, then controlled by the Republicans.
When it becomes a state, Washington will have two senators and one representative who has the right to vote in the House.
The prospect is infuriating Republicans, as the city enjoys an overwhelming Democratic majority: 92% of its residents voted for Joe Biden in November.
“This session has only one objective: to create two new Democratic seats in the Senate,” said Republican-elect James Comer during the session.
Republicans also state that the specific status of “District of Columbia” has been distinguished, as it includes seats in the federal authority, in order to avoid being “influenced by a state.”
When the United States was created in the 18th century, the “founding fathers” actually wanted to establish a headquarters for the federal government outside the first thirteen states to avoid disputes. Therefore, the constitution provided for the creation of a “district” in 1790 directly linked to the central authority.
Because of this unique situation, residents of Washington do not have elected officials who vote in Congress.
African American vote “suppressed”
For the powerful civil rights organization ACLU, denying Washington a vote in Congress amounts to “suppressing the political power of blacks,” because 46% of its population are African Americans.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser added that the statute of the city resulted in particular from “racist attempts to undermine a black city that grows and thrives,” by preventing her from voting in Congress.
Democrat Ayanna Presley said during the hearing that Washington “will be the state with the highest proportion of blacks in the country.”
Elected officials have been fighting for decades to give Washington the state.
But “there is now a real increase in support for this initiative,” she declared during the hearing, the elected Democrat who chaired the discussions, Caroline Maloney.
A Data for Progress poll conducted in February showed that a majority of US voters (54%) believed Washington should become a state, a record high.
The White House said Democratic President Joe Biden supported the initiative because it believed its residents “deserve to be represented.”
According to Eleanor Holmes Norton, the passage of the new bill is “guaranteed” in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, although no date has yet been set. However, passing it in the Senate appears complicated.
The Democrats have a very narrow majority, but they need ten Republicans to be able to mandate the vote on that text.
“Extreme twitteraholic. Passionate travel nerd. Hardcore zombie trailblazer. Web fanatic. Evil bacon geek.”