Make the District of Columbia into a state and end taxation without representation in congress. Washington D.C. has a huge community of African-Americans (~50% of it's 720k residents) and ranks #20 of largest cities in America. Poorer black people tent to live in D.C. versus the greater Metro DC area, and are structurally excluded from representation on major issues because D.C. has no representation in congress. This may also affect access to federal funds and self governance that states enjoy.
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Today, for the first time, the House of Representatives is expected to approve statehood for Washington, D.C. The bill is likely to pass on party lines, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans against it. Afterward, it is almost certain to die in the Republican-controlled Senate.
But the vote is still significant, because it signals the Democratic Party’s growing focus on the issue. It now seems possible that the District of Columbia will become a state whenever Democrats next control the House, the Senate and the White House, which could be as soon as next year.
So here’s your brief guide:
The standard D.C. license plate includes the Revolutionary War-era phrase “Taxation without representation.” District residents pay federal taxes but have no vote in the House or the Senate. The recent coronavirus relief bill gave less money per capita to federal territories, including D.C., than to states.
With about 705,000 residents, D.C. is larger than two states — Vermont and Wyoming.
About 45 percent of D.C. residents are black, a higher share than in any state. The District’s lack of representation contributes to the racial skew of the Senate: It gives considerably more say to white Americans than black, Asian or Latino Americans, because small states are heavily white.
In a 2016 referendum, 86 percent of D.C. residents voted in favor of statehood. (Many D.C.-statehood advocates also support offering admission to Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans will vote this year on a nonbinding referendum about statehood.)
Alaska and Hawaii are the most recent states to join, in 1959, which means the U.S. is in its longest stretch without adding a new state.
Because the Constitution calls for a federal district separate from any state, the House bill would designate a small downtown area — mostly government buildings — as the new national capital.
“The surge of support for statehood among congressional Democrats is in large part a backlash against President Donald Trump’s aggressive response within the district to the civil unrest sparked by George Floyd’s death,” Quinta Jurecic explains in The Atlantic. Muriel Bowser, Washington’s mayor, has said, “Statehood fixes it all.”
Pro and con: Susan Rice made the case for statehood in a recent Times Op-Ed. The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby has argued against it, saying the creation of a new, smaller federal district would be unconstitutional.