1. How would statehood be achieved? The legislative path toward Statehood is simple. The process has been followed through to completion 37 times since the first 13 colonies formed their union. A territory must petition the Congress, draft a constitution with a republican form of government, Congress must approve by a simple majority, and the President must sign the bill. A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote of Congress as well the support of three-quarters of the state legislatures. In other words, 13 states can veto a constitutional amendment. The last time a voting rights amendment was circulated, less than half the required states approved it within the seven year time limit. A constitutional amendment may be repealed. Statehood cannot be repealed.
2. Isn’t DC Statehood unconstitutional? No, the constitution states that the capital city shall not exceed 100 square miles but sets no lower limit in size. Additionally, the Constitution is silent about the location of the Capital City and it was left to the Organic Act of 1801 to set the specific location of the city. Provided that no land is taken from a state without its consent then it would be constitutional for New Columbia to become a state while the federal District would remain as a small portion of the current city consisting mainly of the mall, the Capitol, the White House, and military bases.
Here are the sections of the Constitution that relate to the District and to Statehood:
Ariticle I Section 8-To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
Article IV Section 3-New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress. The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
3. What about Congress’ power over the District? The Constitution states the upper size limit of the district over which it has power; it does not state the lower limit. The size of the District has been changed in the past, most significantly when the Virginia portion was retroceded to that state. DC statehood would require a simple reduction of the size of the federal district to an unpopulated area which includes the Capitol, the Mall, the Smithsonian museums, the White House, some surrounding federal office buildings, and the military installations along the Anacostia River.
4. Isn’t statehood impractical? No, we’ve created a new state 85 percent as frequently as we have elected a new president.
The District is the only political and geographical entity within the United States whose citizens bear the responsibilities of government without sharing in the appropriate privileges of government. District citizens bear all the burden of citizenship, but do not share the most cherished right of citizenship—full representation in the Congress. In addition to paying federal taxes, District residents also pay local taxes, and are subject to all the laws of the United States as well as treaties made with foreign governments.
The United States is the only nation in the world with a representative, democratic constitution that denies voting representation in the national legislature to the citizens of the capital.
A “Constitution for the State of New Columbia (as the new state will be called),” was approved by duly elected delegates from the District of Columbia on May 29, 1982, and adopted by a vote of the people of the District of Columbia in an election held November 2, 1982. The Constitution and a petition for Statehood was transmitted by the Mayor of Washington, DC to the Congress of the United States on September 9, 1983.
5. Why is statehood important to me and my family? Statehood is the route that would give the District (to be named New Columbia) complete autonomy over its budget which would prevent the social engineering experiments Congress like to impose on the District every few years. Congress, because it does presently have authority over the District often experiments with pet programs here by forcing it on us because they cannot force it in their own home states.
Statehood would also finally grant us 2 US Senators, unlike previous compromise options to give us one member of the House. The US Senate was set up to give small states and equal voice with large state in the 2 houses of Congress. The Senate advises and gives consent to presidential appointments to both the federal government and federal courts. For over 200 years we have had no say, no vote, in any federal judge’s appointment including the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has final say over what laws are or are not constitutional, laws with which we have to live by, and yet we have not had the votes to give advice and consent on these nominations.
As the federal budget is negotiated, plans for Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are negotiated we deserve 2 votes in the Senate to say whether or not our tax dollars should be spent in certain ways. The Senate is where the citizens of New Columbia will have our voice on national policies that affect our present daily lives and the policies that will affect our children.
6. Why bother, if it hasn’t happened yet is Statehood really going to happen? It will happen we just need to be organized. In the 1970s the equal representation constitutional amendment passed both houses of Congress with 2/3 majority votes; statehood only needs 50% in each house plus the President’s signature
7. Isn’t the District “too urban and too liberal” to be a state? There is no litmus test in the constitution for demographic make-up of an area for admission as a state and the 14th Amendment explicitly prevents discrimination based on race
8. Why not recede back into Maryland? Neither DC nor Maryland wants this so why do it; it would drastically change the political make-up of Maryland diluting its traditional power bases (especially Baltimore). Additionally, on February 27th, 2012 the Prince Georges County Council adopted a resolution in support of DC Statehood that was not about retrocession and only expressed support for the commercial and residential portions of the District to become the 51st State.
9. Isn’t DC too small to be a state? No, there is no standard for geographic size in the Constitution that would limit a territory being admitted as a state. Additionally, the District has more people than Wyoming and Vermont and pays more federal taxes than 18 other states. With the fastest growing population in the country DC is on course to pass several states in population by the time of the next census in 2020.
10. Isn’t the District is so heavily subsidized by the federal government that it would go broke as a state? No, the District receives 25% of its budget from the federal government which as a percentage is less than 5 other states and is on par with 3 other states. Statehood would allow the District to tap other potential revenue stream which Congress presently prevents. Here’s a good article on District finances compared to the other states from Greater Greater Washington: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/11051/how-much-federal-money-does-dc-actually-get/
The US Census Bureau calculates the total federal funds transferred to state and local governments, and the total revenues collected in each state. The latest available figures (2008) reveal that Mississippi leads the nation with 35% of its combined state and local budget revenue coming from the federal government. Louisiana is a close second at 34%, followed by New Mexico and South Dakota at 27% each. The District government receives the same percentage of federal funds as Alabama, Montana, Vermont, and West Virginia. In all, 8 states receive as much or more aid than the District.
11. Given the District’s past and present issues with corruption isn’t it too corrupt to be a state? There is corruption in every state. Illinois has 3 out of its last 4 governors serving federal prison sentences on corruption convictions. There are unethical and criminals at all levels of government across the country from Harry Thomas Jr. to Richard Nixon.
12. Do District residents even want statehood? Over 60% of District residents voted for Statehood in the 1980s
13. Does the District have enough land to tax to be financially viable and independent? Yes it does. Although the District is hindered by federal and international presence since they are tax exempt the city has still balanced 14 budgets in a row without much federal contributions.