District of Columbia: Potential 51st state

BY ANNA WOLFINGER

Washington D.C. is currently under consideration for becoming the 51st state of America. 

There is presently a bill in Congress proposing statehood to Washington D.C. that will be taken up on February 11. 

One of the main reasons people want statehood to be implemented is the rights of those living in Washington D.C.

Editor in Chief, Halle Shaeffer, waves the D.C flag after talking to Senator Mike Brown. Photo by Axel Mueller

“Imagine this; we have 718,000 people, we pay the highest federal income taxes in America, we have 30,000 veterans and more than 200,0000 who have served in combat in the District of Columbia, and yet we have no say in the national legislature,” said superdelegate, Senator Mike Brown. “We’re the only country in the world that doesn’t allow the people of the capital city to vote. No other democracy in the world does this, so we have to end it.”

After the markup, it was presented to the House floor and was then voted on by the House of Representatives. United States Representative, Franklin Garcia, paved the way in Iowa to get Democrats on board for granting statehood to the District of Columbia. 

“It’s good timing for us because we have enough co-sponsors in the House of Representatives,” said Garcia. 

After the bill was passed by the House of Representatives, it will then be voted on by the Senate.

“We also need the Senate to have enough co-sponsors,” said Garcia. “Given the current situation, we need at least 60 members of the Senate to support statehood. After that, it goes to the executive branch where they would need to establish their territory boundaries and then you become a state.”

The territory would be split into two parts. The half containing the federal buildings and the capital itself would be its own area. The area holding residential areas and actual citizens will be the territory declared as a state. 

The bill currently has 224 votes in the House of Representatives where the requirement is 218. 

“We have about 30 co-sponsors in the Senate, so we’re about half-way there,” said Garcia. 

Gracia, along with the other supporters of this bill, was in Iowa to spread the knowledge of the idea of the 51st state. 

Anna Wolfinger and Eric Heffinger talk to the congressman about potentially turning Washington D.C. into an official state. Photo by Axel Mueller

“We found it very useful to be here for two reasons,” said Garcia. “Firstly, we understand that the message cannot stay in D.C. The message of statehood has to grow not only nationally but internationally. Secondly, this exposure that you get here [in Iowa] with all the media attention is a great opportunity to bring any national issue to the United States.”

The movement of statehood began in the early 1980s and has become a topic of conversation for three decades now. One of the reasons that this has not been implemented is due to the political parties. Republicans are against D.C. becoming a state because D.C. has never endorsed a Republican candidate in all of history. 

“One of the reasons that it hasn’t been ended thus far is because we’re all Democrats,” said Brown. “We’ve never voted for a Republican for president, we have no Republican elected officials, we have never endorsed a Republican.”

Both Brown and Garcia are continuing to spread the awareness of the District of Columbia and the urgency in giving it the right to become a state. D.C. meets all of the requirements of statehood and the few left are for the Senate to pass it, then for the next president to pass it as well.

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