Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

D.C. OKs Referendum to Make District 51st State

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

D.C. OKs Referendum to Make District 51st State

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - District of Columbia voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum to make the nation's capital the 51st state on Tuesday, with poll goers saying they hope the vote puts pressure on the next Congress and president to address D.C.'s lack of representation in Congress. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser focused most of her day on the statehood measure. She vowed to quickly carry out the statehood referendum, which she proposed and campaigned for. The mayor said she would deliver a petition for D.C. statehood to the next president and Congressional leaders by Inauguration Day.

"This is what I've heard from D.C. residents all over the city, and I've been to all eight wards, is that they're voting for statehood. They want to be treated like every American. They want two senators.

"We need equality, and the only way to get there is with statehood.

Kathy Jasper was among those who cast a vote in favor of statehood.

"We pay federal taxes like we're a state, we need to see some of the benefits of being a state, Jasper said. The retired recruiter said she did not hold out hope that statehood would come soon, but said it was an important message for the nation.

- the washington post

"We've been trying for a long time, and we'll keep on trying, she said. "It's the right thing to do.

Bowser, joined by statehood advocates and the D.C. Council, crafted the referendum to mirror how residents in Tennessee petitioned Congress to join the union in 1796.

Like the District, Tennessee was a federal territory at the time and Congress said it would grant statehood without ratification by the states if residents approved a constitution and committed to a republic form of government.

Unlike with Tennessee, however, partisan politics have for decades made D.C. statehood a non-starter with Republicans in Congress.

D.C. has a population of more than 672,000 - larger than the states of Vermont or Wyoming - and its residents pay more in federal taxes than those in 22 states. But Democrats outnumber Republicans in the District by a margin of more than 2 to 1. That means if it were allowed to become a state, the District would likely elect two Democratic senators and a Democratic member of the House, improving odds for Democratic control of both chambers for decades to come.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the powerful House oversight committee, said in an interview this year that D.C. statehood would "never happen on his watch.

Early this year, however, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for the first time cast statehood as a presidential election issue. Clinton promised to be a "vocal champion for D.C. autonomy, if elected.

Under the referendum, the District would split into a new state for its residential areas and leave a smaller, federal district containing government buildings and monuments.

Trump did not take a firm stand on the statehood but in an interview with The Washington Post's editorial board in the spring said statehood is a "tough thing. …

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