Majority of Americans back DC statehood as GOP vows to block it

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Republicans say giving Americans representation in Congress is a 'power grab' by Democrats.

A new survey shows that a majority of likely voters back statehood for the more than half a million American citizens who live in the residential parts of Washington, D.C.

But congressional Republicans are vowing to do everything they can to block any moves to change the District's status, calling it a power grab by the Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A poll conducted by Data for Progress and the progressive group Democracy for All 2021 Action, reported Monday by CBS News, found a record 54% of likely voters think D.C. should be a state, including 34% of Republicans.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 705,749 people lived in the District in 2019.

Because the U.S. Constitution established the nation's capital as a congressionally supervised area that is not part of a state, Washington residents have no voting representatives in the House or Senate.

This disenfranchised population is majority Black and Brown — about 46% Black and about 11.3% Hispanic or Latino of all races. Just 37.5% of the residents are non-Hispanic or non-Latino white people.

The District's nonvoting single representative in Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, reintroduced the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, H.R. 51, in the current Congress on Jan. 4. The bill would keep federal government buildings as what would be called the Capital and create a 51st state out of residential areas of the District, to be called the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.

But Republicans have railed against the idea, with many of them openly admitting that admitting Washington as a state would enfranchise more Democratic voters. Washington voters backed Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election by a 92.1% to 5.4% landslide and have not elected a Republican to local office since 2004.

Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) vowed on Jan. 16 to fight against Biden's "radical agenda," in which he included D.C. statehood.

"Democrats' attempts to jam through DC statehood is purely about expanding power," tweeted Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) a week later.

On Sunday, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) said the Republican base was concerned about Democrats' efforts to create a 51st state: "This is their first step of their political power grab. And we're going to make sure that America knows what they're trying to do and why it wasn't created as a state to begin with."

Republicans raised the specter of Washington, D.C.'s diverse and mostly Democratic-leaning citizens being represented in Congress as an issue during their  campaigns in 2020.

Prior to the two Georgia runoff elections in January that gave narrow control of the Senate to the Democrats, Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado warned, "The Schumer/Pelosi Agenda would devastate America," and that victories by Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock against incumbent Georgia Republicans would enable "DC Statehood."

In November, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement predicting that victories by Ossoff and Warnock would allow Democrats to set the nation on a "a path straight to socialism" that would include D.C. statehood.

While some Republicans have argued that it would be unconstitutional to change the status of the more than 700,000 disenfranchised D.C. residents, others have proposed taking away their three Electoral College votes and combing the city with the state of Maryland — an idea backed by neither jurisdiction.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing on Monday on H.R. 51.

The Democratic majority in the House passed similar legislation last year, but it was not given a vote by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.