Home US Politics FAQs Making Washington DC the 51st State: A Sane Step or an Ambitious Dream?

Making Washington DC the 51st State: A Sane Step or an Ambitious Dream?

by Eli Mshomi

The District of Columbia Statehood Movement, commonly known as DC Statehood, is a political movement demanding statehood for Washington DC, and voting representation in the United States Congress and state government, having absolute control over their local affairs. 

The District of Columbia is a federal district of the United States that does not have any special status as a state.

As the House passed a bill to make DC the 51st state of the US, Republicans are all set to oppose the measure in an equally-divided Senate, and probably the bill will, once again, be buried under the files.

We have gathered a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the DC statehood debate. Let’s see.

FAQs About Washington DC statehood

FAQs About Washington DC statehood

Why Does DC Need Statehood?

The District of Columbia has been appearing on the map of the United States for almost 200 years. Since then, its residents have not been provided with full citizenship rights that every other state of the United States enjoys, irrespective of any kind of distinction.

The District of Columbia is the only geopolitical entity of the United States whose citizens have no privileges that other residents of the United States enjoy.

The Federal Government directly influences Washington and interferes with local laws and operations that pose grave concerns among citizens.

Despite paying more tax than twenty-two other states, DC has no representation in Congress through which the people could voice their opinions. Washington is unable to control its budget despite contributing a considerable amount to the national economy.

 

Is Washington DC Capable of Becoming a State?

The capability of DC to qualify as a state can be judged by its lasting contribution to the economy of the country along with its population density.

The tax paid by DC is equal to what twenty-two other states of the United States pay collectively. Additionally, the per capita taxes paid by DC are more than any other state of the country. 

Washington DC would rank 49th in terms of population, having more people than Vermont and Wyoming. DC was found to be first in terms of total GDP and educational attainment. Similarly, DC was first in terms of population density in 2015.

 

What Would Be the New Name of DC?

If Washington DC succeeds in becoming the 51st state of the USA, a new name will be needed for it. For the most recent statehood movement supporters, the name should be “New Columbia.”

However, the Washington DC Admission Act passed by the United States House of Representatives in 2020 and 2021 proposed a new name. Under this law, the new state would be named as the ”State of Washington Douglass Commonwealth,” in honor of the social reformer, Frederick Douglass.

 

Who Supports the DC Statehood Movement?

The DC Statehood movement has garnered support from a variety of groups, including religious, social, political, and civil rights groups.

Religious groups that support the Washington DC Statehood movement include Jewish communities and different churches of the United States, including the Union for Reforms Judaism, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church.

In terms of businesses and civil rights organizations, the prime support emerges from the Federal City Council that launched state-wide research to provide the historical, economic, and legal basis for making DC a state.

The primary political support for DC Statehood came from Democrats, starting with Bill Clinton and further extended by Barack Obama. 

The New Columbia Admission Act of 2015 was co-sponsored by Bernie Sanders, a progressive Democrat. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have also openly supported statehood for DC. 

The movement failed to get any national traction from Republicans, yet many of the local Republican leaders support the movement, and have also been a part of the movement.

 

Is the Demand Constitutional?

Congress holds the authority to redefine the boundaries of any state. In 1846, Congress returned a portion of Potomac to Virginia using this authority.

The proposed map of a new DC state carves out a two-mile radius that will be known as the Capital Service Area, including all the buildings such as the White House, Capitol Hill, Supreme Court, etc.

 

Will a DC Statehood Bill Pass the Senate?

The bill has already been passed by the House of Representatives with a significant majority but is expected to face grave resistance in Senate.

The bill passed the House with 216-208 votes along the party lines. It is pertinent to note here that this bill has already been passed from the House in the past but was not allowed to be bought up in Senate.

The bill already has 44 sponsors in the Senate, yet it will require support across the aisles to avoid the 60-vote threshold. The real problem is many of the Democrats have yet to show their support for the bill, and it is not likely that everyone from the Democrat side will also support the bill.

 

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