Open Letter to Senator Mike Lee

The Honorable Mike Lee,

I saw earlier today that you once again offered a bill to ban certain forms of abortion in the District of Columbia. While I understand this is an issue of deep moral importance to you I wanted to use the introduction of this piece of legislation to engage you and your staff in a conversation about an issue of deep moral importance to me, my family, and my neighbors. To me, it’s of great moral importance that my wife and I have representation in our national legislature, that we have an autonomous local government, and that our daughter is treated fairly and equal with everyone else in the country. Today, across the street where you work are 632,000 tax paying citizens living lives within a system counter to the principles of the American Revolution.

I don’t dispute that the Constitution gives Congress control over legislation within the boundaries of the District of Columbia but the real question is, should it? Should Congress impose laws on Americans who had no role in electing them to office? Over two hundred years ago our founders never imagined a thriving city of 632,000 people would live here. Their image was of a capital city where legislators came for a few months a year and then went back to their states for most of the year. As our democracy has grown and evolved we expanded the right to vote to non-land owning white men, African-American men, women, those over 18, and to all of the people who lived in the territories that became states, yet still my family and I who live in the shadows of the Capitol are denied representation in it. I believe that it’s time for Congress to once again take up the moral cause of statehood by adding the 51st state to the union.

Earlier this Congress, Senator Tom Carper introduced the New Columbia Admission Act (S. 132) which would admit the residential and commercial portions of the District as the 51st state in the Union. The bill, in order to pass a constitutional muster, would keep a small federal district that includes the White House, U.S. Capitol, the Mall, federal buildings around the Mall, and a few military bases. The Constitution calls for a federal district but only sets an upper limit to its size thus the bill, similar to when Arlington and Alexandria were ceded back to Virginia, once again would shrink the size of the federal district.

Given your belief in fiscal responsibility (we’ve balanced 15 budgets in a row), a limited federal government, and local control over local affairs I think the statehood bill is something in line with your core beliefs and thus something that you should support. I know that you have a deep moral opposition to abortion and probably oppose other laws created by the District government but at the same time democracy at its core is letting citizens elect people to make policy for them. We can elect our Council, we can elect our Mayor, but we cannot elect voting members in Congress and there is something completely un-American about how America treats the citizens of its capital.

I hope that you or the appropriate member of your staff will be able to make time to meet with me to discuss S. 132, the New Columbia Admission Act. We might not believe in many of the same national policies but we both believe in fairness and in democracy and at its core the statehood bill is about fairness and democracy.

I work close to the Hill and can adjust my schedule as needed should you or the appropriate staff member have time to meet with me about the statehood bill.

 

Many thanks,

Josh Burch

Brookland, DC

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