District of Columbia: Time for Statehood, Says DC's Shadow Senator
The District of Columbia Shadow Senator Paul Strauss has said that the time for DC to gain statehood has come. Sen Strauss' remarks came as the US House of Representatives prepares to vote on a bill Friday to make the district a state. The response to the coronavirus crises has been the latest episode to reveal the consequences of citizen's lacking representation in Congress. When it came time to allocate funds to help Americans deal with the pandemic, lawmakers treated D.C. as a territory instead of as a state, and D.C citizens “didn’t get the resources we needed”, said Senator Strauss. The current statehood resolution has significant support from House Democrats, with 226 co-sponsors already giving it an expected majority. Strauss says that this is a “high water mark” for the statehood effort, and the closest it has ever come to success.
Below is an article published by Fox News
Nearly 230 years after the establishment of Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives will be voting on a bill Friday to make the district a state -- and according to D.C.'s "shadow senator" Paul Strauss, the time is right for it to finally happen.
The last time a push for statehood came this far was in 1993, though it continues to face an uphill climb and opposition from the Trump administration. But Strauss believes that Americans understand the case for statehood more due to current events involving the coronavirus pandemic and the federal response to protests after George Floyd’s death.
“People see statehood in a different light,” Strauss told Fox News in a phone interview. Strauss, as a so-called shadow senator, does not have a vote but represents the interests of D.C. residents in the Senate, with statehood advocacy being chief among them.
Strauss, a Democrat, specifically noted that the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak revealed why the residents of D.C. need statehood for resources. When it came time to allocate funds to help Americans deal with the pandemic, lawmakers treated D.C. as a territory instead of as a state, and Strauss says “we didn’t get the resources we needed.”
Strauss maintained that D.C., created in July 1790, pays more federal taxes than any other non-voting territory and does not receive proportional services for their population, which is larger than those of Wyoming and Vermont.
“We are essentially a donor state,” he said.
The recent protests in D.C. after Floyd’s death also showed the difference statehood would make, Strauss said, pointing to President Trump “threatening to send soldiers into the streets” to combat violence.
Trump did not end up activating U.S. military members who staged outside Washington during the most violent period of unrest following Floyd's death in police custody. But more recently, the Trump administration mobilized the National Guard to protect monuments amid a recent wave of vandalism and threats of damage to federal property. The National Guard was also on hand to quell prior unrest. Strauss noted that the administration would not be able to do this as easily if D.C. were a state with a governor.
Should D.C. become a state, its mayor – currently Muriel Bowser – would become the new governor, and the D.C. Council would become the state legislature.
The current statehood resolution has significant support from House Democrats, with 226 co-sponsors already giving it an expected majority. Strauss says that this is a “high water mark” for the statehood effort, and the closest it has ever come to success.
"It's time," he said.
Still, he is “not under any illusion” that the Republican-controlled Senate is in a rush to pass it.
In Federalist 43, James Madison wrote that it is important for the nation’s capital not to be located in a state to avoid the risk that it be treated better than other states. Strauss made clear that this would not be the case under the current plan, because the Capitol, White House, and other federal buildings would remain in its own neutral area, with only the surrounding area being part of the new state, which would be known as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth after the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
But the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a statement Wednesday arguing that the tiny federal district could still be beholden to the new state.
“For example, given its small size, the Federal capital would depend entirely on the new State of Washington, D.C. for most, if not all, of the necessary modern services, which directly implicates a concern that troubled the Framers,” OMB said.
The OMB statement also argued that the current House bill is unconstitutional because of how it would take land away from the current district to form a state.
“If, as H.R. 51 proposes, the District were reduced to a small jurisdiction made up of essentially only Federal buildings, the 23rd Amendment would give the tiny population of individuals living within those borders the same voting power in the Electoral College as the smallest state in the country,” the statement said.
The OMB statement noted that President Trump’s advisers would recommend he veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
In a recent interview with the New York Post, Trump claimed that Democrats support D.C. statehood because the district is largely Democratic, meaning the party would automatically gain seats in both the House and Senate.
“They want to do that so they pick up two automatic Democrat — you know it’s 100 percent Democrat, basically — so why would the Republicans ever do that?” Trump said. “That’ll never happen unless we have some very, very stupid Republicans around that I don’t think you do.
“No thank you,” the president said. “That’ll never happen.”