by Guy Page
A Vermont House resolution to admit Washington, D.C. as the 51st state has been sent to a committee for further study.
JRH 4 was sponsored by Rep. Becca White (D-Hartford) was introduced March 10 and sent for study to the Government Operations Committee. Resolutions addressing complicated issues are often sent to committees rather than facing an immediate floor vote. For example, earlier this year a Senate resolution expressing friendship for Taiwan, Vermont’s largest Asian trading partner, was sent to the commerce committee for further study.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and U.S. Senator To Carper of Delaware have respectively introduced in the 117th Congress H.R.51 and S.51 to grant statehood to the District of Columbia, the resolution says. DC Statehood issue is often supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, because as a state DC would almost certainly vote Democratic. White’s resolution offers a helpful history of voting rights in the District.
According to JRH 4, the U.S. Constitution, as ratified following the Constitutional Convention of 1787, granted the right to vote for congressional representation to qualified voters in all the states, including those living in the sections of Maryland and Virginia.
The “District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801” designating the nation’s capital disenfranched DC citizens from voting in local or federal election. In 1961, the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave the District’s electorate the right to vote in presidential elections. In 1970, Congress authorized the District’s voters to elect a nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of
Representatives. In 1973, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, establishing local mayoral and city council elections.
The resolution claims “Congress has repeatedly interfered in the local government’s decision-making process, especially on budgetary matters,” and says residents pay federal income tax but are denied full congressional representation.
Puerto Rico is the most populous of U.S. territories and also historically Democratic, has been mentioned as a possible 52nd state. But as recently as January 2021, Puerto Rico had a Republican governor. Democrat-leaning columnist Michael Barone last year cautioned like-minded MSN readers: “So just as Democrats are discovering that Hispanics in Florida and other states are trending away from Joe Biden and toward Donald Trump — even though they’re deemed people of Color in a systemically racist nation — so they may discover, if they pursue their statehood ploy, that voters of varied origin in faraway territories are not as politically reliable as they assume.”
No-one in Washington or Montpelier has introduced legislation for statehood for Pacific island territories Guam (five GOP governors of nine elected since 1971) and American Samoa (eight GOP governors of 13).
Thumbnail photo from DC Statehood Facebook page.