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Opinion: D.C.’s Fight for Statehood

Max Hauser, Grade 10, Staff Writer

 

“Taxation without Representation,” a sentiment that helped inspire the colonial revolt against Great Britain in the 18th century, is once again of utter importance. Common Sense looks at the question of granting statehood to the nation’s Capitol.


Washington D.C. residents do not get full voting representation in Congress despite being citizens, paying taxes, and having a substantial population, just like the other 50 states. It is a disgrace that the people of the District of Columbia are disenfranchised. D.C. should be turned into the 51st United State.


In Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution, it is stated that a power of the legislative branch is “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.”


Looking back at this segment of the Constitution, it can be observed that the framers of our country omitted the means of stately rights for the future residents of the district. As a result of this, the population of D.C. has not experienced full voting rights since the 1700s, when they were citizens of Virginia and Maryland.


D.C. residents do everything they should to make them eligible to have these rights. According to Maya Efrati in Brennan Center for Justice, D.C. residents pay more federal taxes per person than any other state and more than 22 states in total federal taxes.


The people who live in Washington D.C. have to face extreme consequences because of their district’s situation. In 2014, D.C. voted to grant the district ability to regulate and tax the market of cannabis, but this was blocked by Congress. District of Columbia residents have to suffer because they aren't considered to be living in a state.


The District was cheated out of millions of dollars in COVID relief in March of 2020 because of the lack of representation of voting in Congress. When Congress passed the relief, no D.C. representatives or Senators were present, so it was considered an American territory and not a state.


Making the District of Columbia a state would give greater voice to African-Americans. The population of the District of Columbia is 712,816 according to Data Commons, Place Explorer. The District of Columbia has a whopping 45.39% African-American population according to the most recent survey on World Population Review. According to a New York Times analysis, based on the voting power of each U.S. senator, the average Black American receives “only 75 percent as much representation as the average white American.”


The United States has always found ways to underrepresent, disenfranchise, and block people of color from politics, and D.C.’s lack of statehood is a modern example.


One argument against DC statehood is that D.C. needs the consent of Maryland to become a state, but this is refuted because Maryland's historical documentation states that The District of Columbia is, “forever ceded and relinquished… in full and absolute right and exclusive jurisdiction.”

Another argument is that D.C. does not have the population or resources that are needed for every state.


However, D.C. has similar populations to seven existing states and more citizens than two, Vermont and Wyoming. The real reason behind the anti-statehood argument though, is that Republican states do not want to create another Democratic state, which D.C. would likely be.


This issue is constantly evolving. On April 14, 2021, in Washington D.C, the Committee on Oversight and Reform voted to pass H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, to grant statehood to the people of the District of Columbia.


The historic vote paves the way for the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 51. If officially put into place, the Admission Act will turn most of D.C. into a new state called Washington Douglass Commonwealth with a small capital, including the National Mall, White House, and other federal buildings. This act serves as a sign of hope that the people of D.C., our fellow Americans, will finally get the representation that they deserve.



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