The statehood bill would reduce the size of the federal district—the part not given the full rights of statehood—to the immediate surroundings of the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, and the National Mall, and turn the rest of the current Washington, D.C., into the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, honoring Frederick Douglass.
Republicans know their arguments are weak, like “The Founding Fathers never intended for Washington D.C. to be a state,” an argument courtesy of Sen. Mike Rounds, who represents South Dakota, a state created separate from North Dakota to give the Republican Party more senators. Or “They have no source of income,” from Rep. Ralph Norman, ignoring the fact that the District’s residents somehow pay more federal taxes than residents of most states—despite having “no source of income.”
The District’s government has noted several important ways that not being a state has hurt in recent months. On Jan. 6, as Trump-supporting insurgents attacked the U.S. Capitol, the order for the National Guard to activate had to come from the reluctant Trump White House and Defense Department, because the Washington, D.C. National Guard is not under local control. Additionally, “While our population is larger than that of both Vermont and Wyoming, under the CARES Act, the District was denied $755 million in emergency funds, which is the amount provided to the least populous state through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.”
Statehood for the plurality-Black District would help change the fact that, in the U.S., “The average Black American voting power is only 75 percent as much representation as the average white American in the Senate and a 55 percent to the Hispanic voter.” Republicans really don’t want to change that.
Because Republicans oppose statehood for partisan reasons, you’re often going to hear this presented as partisan on both sides. But the reality is that there’s simple justice issue here, and it’s a racial justice issue as well. More than 700,000 people in this country effectively have no representation because of where they live. This situation of taxation without representation is being upheld by the minority rule of the Senate, with Republicans able to block it despite representing tens of millions fewer people than Senate Democrats. It’s an insult to democracy upheld by an insult to democracy.