Should DC get a voice in Congress?

Long time lurker, first time debater :slight_smile:

I am a native Californian and I had visited Washington DC before and noticed the plates were stamped with the slogan “Taxation Without Representation.” As a tourist, this meant nothing to me but a year ago and I moved to DC and realized that DC residents are really getting the short end of the stick.

I have very rudimentary knowledge of the issue at hand, but I believe the basics are as this: A city/state/whatever we are, with a population of approx. 600,000, lacks a vote in Congress. We pay taxes, are subject to the whims of the Feds, yet our voice is not heard. We do not have a Congressperson/Senator available to represent our needs to the government at large.

I know many attempts to grant DC a vote in Congress have failed and the main reason I’ve heard that this hasn’t happened is because it would essentially grant the Democratic Party a guaranteed vote (we went 92% Obama in the '08 election) so many GOP’ers are resistant to include us.

Here’s a Wiki article that sums up the debate:

Another article describing the CF it is to get federal funding for maintenance of DC mostly because of a lack of a vote in Congress:

Out of curiosity, I wonder what non-DC residents think of this idea. Obviously here in DC we have a lot to gain, but for the abstract public who doesn’t live here, would you support this? I pose these questions for fellow Dopers:

  1. Are you for/against the basic idea that DC residents deserve a vote in Congress?
  2. Why?

Give everything that isn’t a Federal Monument or Federal building of some sort back to Maryland.

Maryland doesn’t want it.

I say make them take it whether they want it or not.

In that case, let’s give DC to one of those states that doesn’t have an income tax. Like Washington State. Who cares if they doesn’t want us! Our names are so close together!!

Nah, Maryland deserves it.

Certainly DC should have voting representation in both the house and senate. It should be a state. Wyoming has less than 600,000 residents, and it is a state. There is precedent for statehood with DC’s level of population. The Federal offices, parks and monuments should remain under the sole control of the Congress.

Michigan already is divided into two parts. Maybe we should add DC to Michigan. :smiley:

It is a travesty that DC residents have no representation, but it’s a situation that’s difficult to correct.

[li]It’s probably unconstitutional for Congress simply to award the District a vote by statute. [/li][li]Retrocession could possibly be accomplished without a constitutional amendment, but it would be politically impossible without Maryland’s consent. Maryland does not want DC, because that would create a second power center in the state, blowing up the existing state political equilibrium. [/li][li]There is no momentum for a consitutional amendment to award DC full statehood-style representation. Most Americans don’t know or care that much. Maryland and Virginia would likely oppose it because “statehood” would allow DC to impose a commuter tax on non-resident workers. (Without such a tax, DC’s municipal finance structure would be very unstable).[/li][/ul]
The issue of a solid Democratic majority in DC could be addressed as part of a package that awards an extra congresional seat to a heavily Republican state. That wouldn’t work for the Senate, of course, and the 60-vote threshold would be a huge political issue.

I am against D.C. having a voting representative in Congress because they are not a state. If D.C. wishes to have a vote they should either become part of a state or become their own state. Realistically I do no believe D.C. will ever become it’s own state and repatriation into Maryland or Virginia isn’t likely to happen either.


That shouldn’t be a problem. Virginia took that part of DC back that was on its side of the Potomac without issue. I say limit DC to the Washington Mall area, send the rest back to Maryland. Let Maryland have the federal money that DC used to get.

So if none of your solutions are feasible, what then? Wait for a deus ex machina to descend from the heavens?

If no solutions are feasible, then the residents of DC will just have to suck it up. If they are that bothered by it, they can either move or start a 4th revolution.

There are other feasible solutions. But saying that there are only two or three acceptable solutions, and none are practical, means that the solutions are not reasonable.

For example, if I am poor, and my only plan to get more money is to win the lotto, then I am not proposing an actual solution to my poverty.

So, maybe the problem has no solution.

Or it has no acceptable solution now. Conditions always change. In 10 years, the place could be a wasteland.

For reference’s sake: do we know of any other country with a “Capital District” type arrangement (Australia, Mexico, Brazil, etc.) wherein the population of said Capital District is entirely devoid of voting representation in the national legislature?
As mentioned the problem with retrocession, which would be the simplest way to give these people a full vote, is that it requires Maryland to go along with it (unless the idea is that the Congress may not divide a state unilaterally, but may unilaterally expand one).

The other-direction answer to the cry of “taxation without representation” would be to create a DC tax system independent of the IRS wherein income taxes for District citizens are decided upon locally and the revenue thereof stays in the District for District uses… however, this could be seen by many as largely meaningless if, since DC continues to lack the level of internal autonomy of a State, Congress insists on retaining for itself ultimate authority of vetting any Distrital tax legislation or appropriations. Plus many states would see that as an attempt to create a “Tax Haven” right where the politicians are.
The model for obtaining voting-representation justice for DC, absent statehood, would be a constitutional amendment like the one approved in the 1960s granting it an Electoral College vote equal to its population or the smallest-population state, whichever were less. It could include as in that case language that would make it clear that DC is still **NOT **a State, still not sovereign, still a ward of Congress, but, for example, create a Special Congressional District for the citizens inside the Capital District, given one vote in the House of Representatives (Even in this far-out case I’d doubt a proposal for giving DC Senate seats would fly). Good luck getting a Congressional supermajority and 39 state legislatures behind anything like this…

I’ve said it before when this topic has come up, and I’ll say it again: The injustice of DC isn’t too little representation, but too much. Every single member of the government has a stake in the well-being of the capital. Even if each individual representative’s stake in Washington is smaller than their stake in their home states, the sum total of all of them adds up to a lot more. This is why the Constitution established the District to begin with, and stipulated that it not be part of any state: It’s a way to mitigate as much as possible the excess power that the capital wields.

Not Australia. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), as well as its own Legislative Assembly, has four members in the Commonwealth Parliament: two members in the House of Representatives, as well as two Senators. This is the samel level of federal representation as the other territory, the Northern Territory.

Should Helena lose its representation in your state legislature?

Can you specify how every single member of the government has a stake in the well-being of the capital? Last I checked, it was DC residents who had to go to DC public schools, deal with crime, lead in the water pipes… not Montana residents.