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2021 Spring Update From Washington, D.C.

Things are getting almost back to normal after the attack on the Capitol building on January 6th. The barricades were slowly coming down, but then a subsequent incident happened when a car crashed into a barrier killing one of the Capitol police officers. There is still some lingering sense of apprehension about what might happen next. The Biden administration is now trying to reverse all the damage done by the previous administration, by issuing executive orders and introducing legislation.

When I moved to the District of Columbia in 2003, I did not realize the full impact of the slogan on our automobile license plates: “Taxation without representation”. This means that, although we do pay federal taxes, DC citizens do not have a voting Representative in the House and have only a shadow Senator. And we have been treated like a territory during coronavirus stimulus funding. We are able to vote only in local and presidential elections. Over 712,800 people reside in the District, more than in each of two smaller states.

The U.S. Congress has veto power over our budgets and legislation. Our courts and prisons are all federal. This means that convicts from DC are jailed all over the country, making it difficult for them to maintain contact with family and friends. Our DC National Guard is controlled by the President, not by our mayor. This was why it took so long to get the January 6th insurrection under control.

The DC Statehood website lists these major reasons and many others why the District of Columbia should become the 51st state in the union:

“The District of Columbia is the only political and geographical entity within the United States of America whose citizens bear the responsibilities of citizenship, including taxation and Selective Service registration, without sharing in the full rights and privileges of citizenship.

Washington’s residents pay more taxes than residents in 22 states and pay more per capita to the federal government than any state—yet they have no votes in Congress.

DC is subject to the whims of the federal government where Congress interferes with our local laws, local funding and operations.”

H.R.51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, was introduced on January 4, 2021 and is being considered in the 117th Congress. “This bill provides for admission into the United States of the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, composed of most of the territory of the District of Columbia. The commonwealth shall be admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the other states.” Hearings were held on March 22 by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. H. Rept. 117-19 was issued on April 21st. On April 22 the House of Representatives passed the bill by Yeas and Nays: 216 – 208. The bill was then received by the Senate on the same day. This bill will face resistance in the Senate, because the District votes over 90% Democratic and would most likely elect two Democratic Senators. We shall see what happens next.

The preliminary results of our 2020 Census were released by the United States Census Bureau on April 26, 2021. The results of each census are very important because they determine the allocation of house of Representative seats in every state. The Bureau has an online Historical Apportionment Data Map that shows the changes from 1910 to the present. Most states did not change much, but Texas gained two seats. Some states have sued to get more information because they are already beginning their redistricting efforts. This Politico article points out some of the redistricting difficulties and litigation presented by the late release of the 2020 Census results.

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