D.C. statehood hearing held yesterday with little change in sight

Yesterday at 3 p.m., Democratic Senator Thomas Carper led the first Congressional hearing for D.C. statehood in 20 years. But don’t expect Washington to take decisive action towards the state of “New Columbia” anytime soon.

The hearing was held by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on the New Columbia Admissions Act of 2013, which Carper helped introduce. This act would reduce the federal District of Columbia to a small enclave that includes the National Mall, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and White House. The remainder of the city would then become the 51st state.

With approximately 646,000 residents—more than Vermont or Wyoming—the rapidly-growing District has long been fighting for meaningful representation in Congress. The D.C. population’s frustration is most evident in its not-so-subtle license plate slogan.

District Mayor Vincent Gray testified before the committee on the continual sacrifices his constituents make on behalf of their country despite their unheard voices in the legislature. “The District of Columbia is the only place in the United States of America where Americans serve in the military, fight and die in wars, serve on juries, and are taxed, without voting representation in either house of Congress,” Gray said in written testimony. “That is wrong.”

The bill for D.C. statehood currently has 16 co-sponsors in the Senate and 106 in the House. It also has the support of the D.C. Council, a group who recently asked President Obama to reiterate his support for the creation of New Columbia. This affirmation might bring the District residents one step closer to obtaining the basic rights of U.S. citizenship that they currently lack: representation in Congress, control of locally raised and allocated funds, and autonomy in determining their own laws and municipal policies.

The Council also has compared the District’s struggle for statehood to the women’s suffrage movement of the early 20th century. Vox thinks that this might be code for “not one of the government’s main priorities.”

Photo: Michelle Kinsey Bruns via flickr

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