The Case for DC Statehood
Statehood is a matter of racial justice
Washington, DC is a majority-minority jurisdiction. The denial of full voting rights to the residents of DC has a dilutes the voice of communities of color.
The Congress, a majority white institution, maintains the power to overturn the local population's elected leadership and enacted laws.
Representation is the foundation of our democracy
Taxation without representation was wrong in 1776 and it is wrong today. The people of DC pay more taxes than 22 states and pay more to the federal government than they receive in federal services yet have no voting representation in Congress.
The 29,700 Veterans who call DC home have defended democracy around the world, have put their lives on the line for democracy, but do not have democracy at home.
More than 700,000 people make their lives in DC, more than the populations of Wyoming and Vermont and almost as many as Alaska, North and South Dakota. Voting representation is the foundation of our democracy and it is only fair to extend it to the people of DC.
The People of DC do not have full Self-Government
The people of DC do not have control over their own laws or their own budget. Our nation was founded on the principle of self-government, but Congress can change any law or budget item passed by the duly elected DC Council and signed by the Mayor.
No other jurisdiction or state is told by Congress how it can or cannot spend its own locally collected tax revenue. This blatantly disregards the rights of DC residents.
Over the last 30 years Congress has regularly interfered with DC legislation.
When AIDS was a fatal disease, Congress blocked programs that prevented the spread of HIV.
Congress delayed the District’s recognition of GLBTQ relationships.
Congress threatened wet wipe regulation to increase sewage worker safety and protect our drinking water.
Congress interfered with legislation to reduce gun violence.
The most recent attacks on DC’s self-government:
Invasion and Occupation of DC Streets by Military Forces
On June 1st people from across the District of Columbia and surrounding areas came together, peacefully, in Lafayette Square to protest the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police. They gathered to protest the systemic racism prevalent across the United States that led to that moment. For the afternoon hours people from all walks of life chanted, played music and expressed their views as protected by the First Amendment.
At 6:35pm, that all changed. Federally controlled military and law-enforcement units advanced on those assembled, firing powerful rubber pellets and other munitions into the crowd, without warning and without provocation, pushing the law abiding gathering out of Lafayette Square by force. Military helicopters under federal control were used throughout the evening hovering over DC streets in an attempt to send both debris, and therefore protesters, scattering.
The federal forces took these military actions against the people of DC, without so much as notifying the locally elected mayor, nor the DC Chief of Police. If DC were a state, military actions against the population could not happen without the Governor’s involvement.
CAREs Act Cheated DC
The CARES Act, recently passed and signed into law, short-changed Washington, DC in relation to COVID-19 relief funds. The people of D.C. pay all the taxes everyone does, and the federal government treats D.C. as a state in hundreds of ways. However, the CARES Act includes D.C. with the territories, costing the tax-paying residents of Washington, DC $755 million of needed aid to fight the coronavirus.
Reproductive Rights for Women
Congress bans DC from using its own local tax money to give low-income women access to abortion care through Medicaid. This disastrous policy impacts 55,000 DC women of reproductive age enrolled in Medicaid, pushing abortion care out of reach for many. It disproportionally affects communities of color. For low income DC women, this Medicaid ban is not just a move on a political chessboard, it creates a burdensome hurdle in exercising their constitutional right.
Tax Revenue and Regulation Denied
In 2014, 70% of DC voters passed an initiative to legalize adult possession and home use of marijuana. However, Congress prohibits DC from passing new laws to regulate and tax it’s sale, thus leaving the sale of a legal product in the “underground” market and denies the District needed tax revenue.
Proposals to advance equity to ensure that that benefits of the sale of cannabis go to DC’s most vulnerable communities through jobs and investments in housing, focusing most on areas hardest hit by the criminalization of marijuana, are unable to advance because of Congress. This is the real crime.
In November of 2016 a whopping 86% of DC voters supported the DC Statehood referendum. Every other territory got to decide to be a state. The people of DC just want the same respect to choose what we want.
DC already functions in 100’s of ways as a state. For one, check out our license plates.
What about our Federal Capital?
Making just the residential neighborhoods and commercial areas of the District of Columbia a new state allows the area where the White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court, along with the monuments and museums to remain as the Federal Capitol of the United States. We can fix this hole in our democracy and still maintain a beautiful national Capital district.