'No one's compelled to actually be here,' said Sen. James Lankford.
During a Senate hearing Tuesday on statehood for Washington, D.C., Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) argued against representation for the city's over 690,000 residents, asserting that they can just move to neighboring states if they want voting representation in Congress.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which Lankford is a member, held a hearing titled "Examining D.C. Statehood" to discuss H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, which passed the House in April and has the support of President Joe Biden.
"Obviously the founders designed a capital region to never be a state," Lankford said while questioning witness Derek T. Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa. "I mean, that was the design in the Constitution to say, this is uniquely so that the federal government does not exist under the authority of any state
Lankford further noted, "Right, 200-plus years, any individual that moves to Washington, D.C., understands that Washington, D.C., is unique, this is a place where you don't have a vote for a senator or a House member."
Lankford noted, "My hometown of Oklahoma City is 10 times the size of Washington, D.C.," but still people move from there to even smaller places and commute back and forth "because it's a choice that they make. In an area that is literally one-tenth of the size of my hometown of Oklahoma City, people have options to be able to still work and to be able to travel and to be able to move into other areas if they wanted to be able to work in Washington, D.C. Many people live in Maryland or in Virginia or in West Virginia and drive in."
"No one's compelled to actually be here," he said.
Lankford's objection follows those of other Republicans against granting representation to the city's residents, a majority of whom are nonwhite, and most of whom are Black. As the American Independent Foundation noted in March, Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential vote in Washington by a margin of 92.1%-5.4%. A Republican has not won an election for local office in the District since 2004.
Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) said in March that the Founding Fathers would not have wanted D.C. to be a state because it lacks an airport.
Rep. James Comer (R-KY) said that D.C. is too small to be a state, even though Wyoming, a Republican-led state, has over 100,000 fewer residents.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-VA) complained that if Washington became a state, all of its representatives would be Democrats.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) said that having manufacturing, agriculture, and mines in the District was a prerequisite for statehood.
According to an official Washington government website on statehood, D.C. residents pay more in federal income taxes than the residents of 22 other states, and hundreds of thousands of people from the city have served in the U.S. military, all while lacking voting representation in Congress.
Polling has shown a majority of Americans support Washington, D.C., statehood.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.