Statehood for D.C.?

It’s in the Dems’ platform this year, which mean, if they take the WH and Senate, it will come up for a vote. Apart from the general silliness of making a State of the Union out of a single city – and we already have states less populous – is there any down side?

My own view is that the new State of Columbia or whatever should include the whole Washington Metro Area, but the Virginia and Maryland legislatures would have to agree to give up those counties, so it won’t happen.

I would just shrink down the District of Columbia; have it essentially be a small enclave around the National Mall containing the major government buildings. Incorporate the rest of the city of Washington, where the people live, back into Maryland.

This way you wouldn’t be doing any major changes in the political balance in Congress but the people would have representation.

There’s precedent; the District of Columbia used to be a square until 1847 when the parts of the district that were west of the Potomac were returned to Virginia.

It means it “might” come up for a vote, not “will.” Platforms are generally ignored.

But it’s okay with me. No downside that I can see. Puerto Rico too, if they want.

It will come up for a vote, if the Dems have any say in it, because DC statehood would mean two additional Dem senators, forever.

I agree with Little_Nemo, provided that Maryland is okay with it.

The capital itself shouldn’t be part of a state, in my opinion. To do otherwise would require a constitutional amendment to deal with Article I section 8.

“The Congress shall have Power […] To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; […]”


Not okay with me and the downside is that I consider it philosophically silly. Just too fucking small and if you’re curious I feel pretty similarly about Rhode Island if you exclude the historical argument. RI should never have been a state. I prefer Little Nemo’s idea.

I’d be a far more inclined to support Puerto Rico if the majority of residents wish it.

There’s some debate over whether DC can be made a state without a Constitutional amendment. Even granting that Congress could just redefine the federal district as the Mall, the White House and a couple of other federal properties, the 23rd Amendment gives residents of the District three Presidential electors. So you could have the new District – whose entire population would be the President’s immediate family and some homeless people camped by the Tidal Basin – having the same electoral weight as Montana or Vermont.

I agree, Puerto Rico makes far more sense. DC is a lot more complicated.

Doesn’t adding another state mess up your flag?

Nah, a 51-star flag is easy and can be done in multiple ways.

That DC ought to be a state is a no-brainer. Just say taxation without representation over and over until you’re convinced.

Population Wyoming: 549,914

Population of Vermont: 623,989

Population of DC : 705,749

What’s size have to do with it?

But yeah, the Constitution would need to be revamped.

I believe the plan is to shrink the constitutionally-mandated federal district to the neighborhood around the National Mall, and make a state of the rest of the city.

Cool. Decolonizing people by forcibly stapling them back into a political entity that governed their homeland less recently than France governed Missouri. Bye-bye St. Louis.

No it doesn’t. It gives Congress (the sovereign legislature of the district) three presidential electors, just as it gives the state legislatures the other presidential electors. Whether the people are involved is purely up to Congress. (The current statehood bill would simply exercise the option not to appoint those electors. It would also assign any residents of the rump capital district to their most recent state of residency.)

I admit, I’m no Constitutional lawyer and I was just going off my layman’s understanding, but . . . Jesus Christ. The 23rd amendment lets Congress have electoral votes? So, if it came down to a razor-thin margin in the electoral college, and one party held both houses, they could direct that the District’s electoral college votes go toward their party’s candidate?

Well, yes, but that’s true for all of the electoral college, substituting state legislatures for Congress (and the quality of the average state legislator is much lower than the average member of Congress, as shocking as that may be). I think some states enshrine popular elections in their own constitutions, but in the states where it’s just an ordinary law saying that people get to vote for presidential electors, it would be entirely possible for a piece of ordinary legislation to just…take that away.

That’s a good point. I hadn’t considered the 23rd Amendment. I guess we’d have to include a repeal of that amendment in the process.

I don’t feel that’s a realistic solution. There would be a great temptation for future congresses to reverse their voluntary agreement and invoke their power to name three electors if a situation arose where it would decide the outcome of a presidential election in favor of the party holding a majority in congress.

The Democrats have been pushing for DC statehood for the reasons you describe. And the Republicans, for the same reasons, have been pushing for my Maryland plan to forestall the statehood effort.

That wouldn’t be a change, though. A willing Congress and President (or a willing Congress with veto-proof supermajorities) could do that now.

In the longer term, you’d want to repeal the 23rd Amendment; HR51 changes the rules of both houses to expedite consideration of a repeal amendment, but obviously it can’t guarantee passage or ratification.

This is not a serious objection. The flag has changed plenty of times before and a tiny ornamental change is inconsequential compared to giving representation to hundreds of thousands of people.

And PR too.

There’s easier, and less controversial ways for DC citizens to get representation.

As Little Nemo pointed out, they could be counted among Maryland’s population (with the appropriate permissions, legislation, etc.). Then they would have representation.

As a liberal Democrat I would love to have the two new senators from a “State of Columbia” (or whatevs), and given the current “total war” in US politics I consider any and all political machinations to be on the table. I would gladly give my support to a serious push for DC Statehood.

But I don’t think the argument that a new state is needed for DC citizens to gain representation carries a lot of weight because again, most of the District (save the Capitol and WH) could simply be annexed by an existing state (prolly Maryland or Virginia) and then they’d have full representation.