If you’ve ever been to Washington, D.C., you may have noticed that D.C. residents have a pretty passive-aggressive license plate slogan—”Taxation Without Representation.” It’s well-deserved snark, because D.C.’s approximately 700,000 residents pay taxes but have no real representation in the U.S. Senate, and they only have a sole, nonvoting member in the House of Representatives. The District’s long-suffering Delegate—not Representative–Eleanor Holmes Norton can propose legislation but not vote on bills.
After 200 years of being taxed without a vote in Congress, the District has been making a big push for statehood thanks to the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, which has over 200 Democratic cosponsors and will be debated in the House on July 24. The effort is gaining national traction, though, thanks to some of the Democratic candidates for president.
Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor making waves in the race to the White House, has included statehood for Washington, D.C., in his sweeping plan to invest in the “empowerment of Black America.” In The Douglass Plan that he unveiled today, Buttigieg lays out a lot of big, bold, good ideas like dismantling “racist structures” and making an “intentional and affirmative investment of unprecedented scale in the freedom and self-determination of Black Americans.” In the wide-ranging plan is a suggestion to redraw the boundaries of the District of Columbia to just include federal offices and create a new state called New Columbia, which would bump New Hampshire down in the alphabetical listing of states.
The plan “would give D.C.’s roughly 700,000 residents the full representation afforded to every state: one congressperson, two Senators, and three Electoral Votes.” For you election nerds out there, yes, those three little votes could translate into a tie in electoral votes. Mayor Pete has planned for that by either awarding those three electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote or doing away with the electoral college entirely.
Buttigieg isn’t alone in his push for D.C. statehood. In fact, the majority of Democratic candidates racing to face off against Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election support the cause. The D.C. statehood group 51 for 51 tweeted videos asking candidates about the issue. Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Steve Bullock, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, and John Delaney are all on board. Jay Inslee and Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted their support for the 51st state, while other candidates, like Senator Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Seth Moulton, all told BuzzFeed they were on board with the plan.
Now some of these candidates need to start talking to Governor Rosselló so perhaps Puerto Rico can get a statehood bid, too.