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It’s Time for D.C. Statehood

Bill Press, Tribune Content Agency on

Who says Republicans don’t have a sense of humor? If you still think so, you missed this week’s hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee — where Members of Congress made the most ridiculous arguments for opposing statehood for the District of Columbia. It was better than “Saturday Night Live.”

First, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) argued that Washington, D.C., can’t become a state because its residents have no way of making a living. “They have no source of income,” Norman declared. “In South Carolina, we have farming. In South Carolina, we have mining. The new State of Washington will have none of that.”

LOL! Doesn’t he know about lobbyists? The truth is, Washington lobbyists, lawyers, consultants, and bartenders make a lot more money than South Carolina’s farmers and miners. And their jobs are more secure.

Next up, Georgia’s Jody Hice (R-GA), who hilariously pointed out that Washington doesn’t have any of the basic ingredients a state must have. “D.C. would be the only state, the only state,” he bellowed, “without an airport, without a car dealership, without a capital city, without a landfill, without even a name of its own.” “And we could go on and on,” he added. Although, blessedly, he didn’t.

Now, you must admit, that’s really funny: the idea that, in the days of horse and buggy, our Founding Fathers decreed that a car dealership and airport were essential to statehood. Maybe Hice doesn’t know that Washington is, in fact, served by three airports: Dulles, BWI, and Reagan National, which, just 10 minutes over the Potomac, is a lot closer to D.C. than La Guardia or JFK is to New York. With a quick Google search, Hice would also discover that Washington actually has dozens of car dealerships, including a downtown Tesla showroom.

But the prize for absurd argument against D.C. statehood goes to Zack Smith of the Heritage Foundation, who testified that D.C. residents already exercise an “undue influence” over the federal government because Members of Congress can see their “yard signs” while driving to work. Smith ignores the fact that D.C. residents would gladly trade their yard signs for the right to enjoy full citizenship, including a voice in Congress.

See what I mean? Hilarious! All worthy of a good belly laugh. Except for this: Those Republicans weren’t kidding. They were serious! They only threw out those ridiculous arguments because they’re ashamed to admit publicly the real reason they oppose D.C. statehood. It’s the same reason they’re also trying to suppress the vote today in 43 states: They don’t want more Black people to vote. They don’t want two more African American senators. It’s pure racism.

Racism aside, there’s simply not one legitimate reason to deny D.C. statehood, and every reason to support it. Let’s start with numbers. Based on the 2020 census, Washington has a projected 2021 population of 714, 513 — larger than Vermont (631,560) or Wyoming (569,513). So, the real question’s not: Why should D.C. become a state? But: Why’s Wyoming a state? It doesn’t have a major league baseball, football, or basketball team. D.C. has all three.

 

When it comes to taxes, the level of inequality is astounding. D.C. residents pay more in taxes than 22 other states, yet have no voting representative in the House or Senate. Per capita, D.C. residents pay more to the federal government than any other state in the union, yet have no say in how those tax dollars are spent. As its license plate proclaims, Washington is, in effect, the last American colony, still suffering “taxation without representation.”

That’s not all. Eleven thousand D.C. residents currently serve in the military, but are still treated as second-class citizens when they come home. Washington has a City Council, but every act of the council, even routine budget matters, is subject to congressional review. The absurdity and danger of that lack of control was nowhere more evident than on January 6, when Mayor Bowser didn’t even have the authority to dispatch the D.C. National Guard to help protect the U.S. Capitol from Trump’s mob.

It only takes a majority vote in Congress to make D.C. our 51st state, and with the support of President Biden and House and Senate Democrats, there’s never been a better time. For good measure, I’d like to see them add Puerto Rico, too (just like they paired up Hawaii and Alaska in 1959). But, with or without Puerto Rico, it’s long past time to make residents of Washington, D.C., full-fledged American citizens. Do it now.

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(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” His email address is: bill@billpress.com. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)

©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

 

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