(Politicizd) ---- This morning, Thursday April 22nd, the House of Representatives passed historic legislation granting statehood to the District of Columbia. The bill, passed in partisan fashion, was 216 : 208 in favor of statehood. It marked the second attempt at D.C. statehood, following a 2018 Senate rejection under a Republican majority.
However, the legislation now faces an increasingly difficult challenge as the senate will consider its approval. (Senate approval of statehood requires a majority 60 votes. ) Moreover, its particularly unclear if the entirety of the Senate Democrats will even approve the measure. Moderate Democrat, Joe Manchin of Virginia, told CNN he was still undecided on the issue.
"I got so many things on my plate that I haven't even gotten to that yet"
Senator Joe Machin (D- VA)
Critics of the measure argue it stems from a political agenda to further the Democratic majority in the House and give a Democratic advantage in the Senate. In the 2020 Presidential Election, Democrat Joe Biden won the district with a resounding 92.2% of the vote. This incredible victory is recognized as one of the most Democratic leaning areas in the country. As a result, granting its statehood would almost certainly add 2 more Democratic Senate seats along with an additional House seat.
Progressives point out the potential state of 705,000 residents, would have bigger populations than Vermont (624,000 Residents), and Wyoming (579,000 Residents). Further stated, the claim is that D.C. admission would grant fair representation to an otherwise unrepresented state.
House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi reiterated that distinction expressing that, "With HR 51, Congress is taking a significant step to enfranchise the people of DC and empower them to participate fully in our democracy".
Later, the White House declared its agreement, releasing a detailed explanation of its position. Most notably the statement declared: "The Administration strongly supports H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress..."
As a result, expected pushback ensued, with many illustrating the constitutional violations associated with the district's admission to statehood. In Article I, section 8, clause 17 of the Constitution, the doctrine states that the “Seat of the Government of the United States” should be a district that is under ten square miles and explicitly separated from the other states.
Texas Attorney General reiterated this sentiment explaining that "Our Founding Fathers explicitly set aside a federal district to serve as the seat of government. It was never intended to operate as a state, and for good reason".
Additionally, as per the Residence Act of 1790, the location and size of the "seat of government" (the federal government's estate) cannot be altered by congress. In fact, this precedent has stood since, with a 1791 declaration affirming that only a constitutional amendment could change this reality.
(Senator Ted Cruz on the 'Democratic Power Grab') (Below)
Consequently, Republicans fear that increasingly unfair political malpractice is at play. The malpractice, they say is an alleged power grab with attempts to pack the court with liberal justices and add more Democratic senators.
All in all, critics worry the foundational norms of the country are at increasing risk in a political climate so focused at pursuing power.