UPDATED 12:02 PM PT – Wednesday, June 23, 2021
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the proposal to make Washington, D.C. a state. On Tuesday, the city’s Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser offered her view as to why the D.C. Statehood Bill, which has already passed in the House, should move forward.
Bowser argued D.C. residents lack representation as they are not given senators or congressmen because D.C. isn’t a state.
She went on to explain, “D.C.’s current status is due to generations of inactivity by lawmakers including the founding fathers themselves, failing to address the contradiction that D.C. residents of the U.S. capital are treated as second class citizens.”
However, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) offered an argument which disproved her point.
“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 or try to interact with the state,” he explained. “…To make sure that constitutionally there would always be a region that is there, that was established so the federal government didn’t have to worry about what’s state, what’s federal.”
Making Washington, DC a state is unconstitutional. The Founders designed the Nation’s Capital very intentionally not to be under the authority of any one state. pic.twitter.com/uky1fsBnUo
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) June 23, 2021
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives power to the federal government to form a district free from state authority. Federalist No. 43, penned by Founding Father James Madison, also warns of the “imputation of awe or influence” at risk if America was to put its capital city within a state. In other words, putting the nation’s capital in a state would result in the federal government being subjected to the powers of that state’s government or vice versa.
“Many people live in Maryland, or in Virginia, or in West Virginia and drive in to be able to be here from longer distances, but that’s a volitional choice,” Lankford expressed. “No one’s compelled to actually be here knowing that’s been the situation for more than 200 years.”
Although, a lack of representation isn’t without solutions. In 1846, D.C. ceded control of the residential suburbs Arlington and Alexandria back to Virginia, which had provided the land in the first place. This is one alternative solution to give residents representation without compromising the seat of American power.