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Douglas Andrews / Jun. 29, 2020

DC Statehood? Dems Try to Stack the Deck

A House measure to create Washington, Douglass Commonwealth shouldn't go any further.

Despite what Democrats would have you believe, DC isn’t going to become our 51st state — not now, not ever. But that reality didn’t keep them from trotting out and playing politics with this progressive pipe dream in a shameless effort to stack the senatorial deck with two more rubber-stamp votes.

On Friday, the House passed HR 51 on a mostly party line vote, 232-180. (One Democrat, Minnesota’s Collin Peterson, voted against it.) As USA Today reports, “The bill, which now heads to the Republican-majority Senate, would allow for the admission of a new state, called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, which would be represented by two senators and one member of Congress. The new state would be named for abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who spent the last 17 years of his life in the district.”

If only. The bill will now die in the Senate, as it should — if for no other reason than to preserve and protect the standing of that glorious children’s song Fifty Nifty United States.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why the District shouldn’t be a state, despite what DC native and Obama cover-up artist Susan Rice would have us believe is “the enduring oppression of the citizens of the District of Columbia.” Let’s start with the constitutional one spelled out in Article I, Section 8: “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.”

That language alone would seem to spell doom for the measure without a constitutional amendment — such as the 23rd, which was ratified in 1961 (at the urging of both Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy) and gave citizens of the District the right to vote in presidential elections and have their number count toward the Electoral College. But the Framers, in their infinite wisdom, set an extraordinarily high bar for amendment: passage by a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, and passage by three-fourths of our state legislatures. In today’s ultra-partisan environment, an amendment banning seal clubbing would go down in flames. Good luck getting Senate Republicans to agree that their grip on power should be even more tenuous.

“They plan to make the District of Columbia a state — that’d give them two new Democratic senators,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last year. The same is true of making Puerto Rico a state, he said. “That would give them two more new Democratic senators.”

As for Susan Rice’s claims of “enduring oppression,” consider National Review’s rebuttal: “DC’s median household income varied from 95.6 percent to 107 percent of the national average between 1990 and 2007. Today, it is 136.9 percent, higher than that of any state. … D.C.‘s suburbs are now the wealthiest places in the nation, and uniquely recession-proof. The District was more than 70 percent African American as recently as 1980, and racial justice is often cited as a reason to grant it statehood. In the past decade, however, it has ceased to be majority-black.”

In short, DC statehood is shameless partisan politics. Pure and simple.

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