As the national elections come upon us it’s important to look at where our potential opportunities lie for support in the US Senate for the sponsorship and co-sponsorship of the New Columbia Admission Act. The last time a statehood bill was alive in the US Senate was in 1993, when Sen. Ted Kennedy was the lead sponsor of the bill. Although the bill did not go anywhere it’s important to look at those who co-sponsored the bill to look for them to sponsor a new version of the bill either in the lame duck Congress or in the 113th Congress next year. The time has come for us, as District citizens, to start taking this cause to the doors of the US Senate. Over the last year Neighbors United for DC Statehood has joined with the DC Statehood Coalition in an aggressive lobbying effort for support of HR 265 which has resulted in 28 cosponsors on the House version of the statehood bill, but still no Senate bill exists.
While the Senate has been silent on DC Statehood for a long time there still remains a lot of opportunity within the Senate. All told there are 15 US Senators who will be part of the 113th Congress who have gone on record supporting DC Statehood. The following Senators in 1993, cosponsored the New Columbia Admission Act (S. 898) and will be in the Senate for the 113th Congress: Tom Harkin (D-IA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). These seven Senators should be our natural allies for pushing the Statehood cause in the US Senate. These seven Senators are on record as having supported this issue and they should do it again in the 113th Congress.
In addition to the aforementioned Senators there is one Senator, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who cosponsored the House Bill (H.R. 51) back in 1993 and voted for it and another seven present-day Senators (Richard Durbin (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), & Maria Cantwell (D-WA)) who at the time voted for the statehood bill on the House floor.
All told we should have 15 US Senators in the 113th Congress who have been on the record either by voting for a previous bill or co-sponsoring a previous bill who should be our natural allies in producing a statehood bill in the coming Congress. While there are many other Senators who will come to support the cause it is these 15 Senators that we should spend time and energy lobbying. They have already gone on record to support this cause and it’s time for them to support us once again. Instead of looking at the Senate as an obstacle we need to change our mindset and look at the Senate as an opportunity because in addition to these 15 previous supporters there are other good people on both sides of the aisle who want to be champions for democracy and they will come to support DC Statehood, if only we bring it to their attention.
If you would like to join the congressional lobbying efforts of Neighbors United for DC Statehood and the DC Statehood Coalition please send us an email. We will supply you with a sample letter and contact information for each office. The more people we have pushing this cause the more likely we’ll get a Senate statehood bill and co-sponsors on it. As soon as the dust settles following the election on November 6, 2012, we will be ready to lobby for a bill to be offered in the lame duck session of Congress in the Senate and we will be pushing the cause for the 113th Congress.