District of Democrats?

March 23, 2021

It's a catchy slogan -- "taxation without representation" -- but does Washington, D.C. really have a case when it comes to statehood? Anyone who's driven around the District has to wonder, following cars with that phrase plastered in protest on the bottom of the city's license plates. For decades, Democrats have tried to force a debate on D.C. statehood -- evoking strong feelings on both sides. Monday's House Oversight hearing, it turns out, was no exception.

With Joe Biden in the White House and a slim majority in Congress, liberals are going for broke on their wish list. At the top? Turning D.C. into the bluest state in the union. That wouldn't be difficult, conservatives point out, since 92 percent of the District voted Democrat in the 2020 election. The point of the effort isn't necessarily to give the city's 700,000 residents representation. It's to give Democrats in Congress more. "D.C. statehood is really about packing the Senate with Democrats in order to pass a Left-wing agenda," Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) tweeted.

Even Monday, as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser sat before the committee, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) pressed her on the city's real motivation. "What political affiliation do you think the two new senators would be?" Foxx asked. "It will be up to the people of the District of Columbia," Bowser replied carefully. What she didn't say is that at least 80 percent of the city -- likely more -- are Democrats. Still, she insisted, this isn't politically motivated. But denying D.C. statehood would be racially motivated, Bowser accused. Using the Democrats' latest strategy of calling any opposition to their agenda "racist," the mayor said that voting against this bill "is a way to say that African Americans cannot govern themselves."

The reality is, Heritage Foundation's Zach Smith testified (the only witness of seven chosen by Republicans), Congress doesn't have the power to enact statehood with a simple piece of legislation. "People have said that this is about race, but it is not. It is based on the Constitution," he insisted, citing the fact that the 23rd Amendment would either have to be repealed or a new constitutional amendment passed. "Even if Congress could do this," he asked, rhetorically, "should they? No," he argued. "The framers wanted a separate district to preserve security... The founders also wanted to prevent a state from having too much power over the federal government. It would also lack the amenities and resources that all other states have."

Squad member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) took special offense to the facts, insisting that Republicans and their "dark money bakers over at the Heritage Foundation are telling over 700,000 Americans to sit down and shut up and enjoy the... system implemented by a bunch of elites who thought it was okay to enslave people for their selfish monetary gain hundreds of years ago."

Give me a break, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and other Republicans said. This isn't about slavery or equality. This is about Democrats' looking for a permanent legislative foothold. "This is plan B since Plan A -- eliminating the filibuster -- did not work. D.C. statehood is a key part of the Leftist takeover of America." At one point, things got so heated that the committee had to be called back into order.

At the end of the day, Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) explained on "Washington Watch," if you really want to give District residents the representation that is denied them, "The right approach, really, is just give Maryland's land back, keep federal triangle, keep the White House, keep the Capitol grounds, but give everything back to Maryland. But that's not what this agenda is all about. It's about getting to more liberal Democrat votes into the U.S. Senate." But clearly, he said, pointing to James Madison's Federalist Paper #43, "the District of Columbia was envisioned by our founders to be a very special entity. And statehood is just simply not appropriate."

"Congress thinks they can somehow declare it a state, even though the Constitution doesn't fulfill the criteria of a state," Harris went on. "So the whole thing is just a political statement. And really, America looks at this in the context of what's [happened in the capitol during the riots], and the lawlessness and the inability of the government of the capital city to enforce the law, I think the last thing on people's minds right now is, 'Gee, we think D.C. deserves statehood [since they've] behaved so well."

Like the fight against the filibuster, D.C. statehood is a one-way ticket to everything on the Left's agenda. It's about Democrats getting two reliably-radical Senate seats that would help them pass the Equality Act, the Green New Deal, pack the Supreme Court, socialist medicine, federalized elections, and more. Like everything else Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is advocating right now, it's a power grab. A path to a permanent majority. And it must be stopped.

For more on the debate, don't miss FRC's blog post, "Seven Things You Should Know about D.C. Statehood."