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Robert Longley

Another Try for D.C. Statehood

By February 12, 2013

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The District of Columbia could become "New Columbia" and our nation's 51st state under a bill introduced by the District's one representative in Congress, who, by the way, is not even allowed to vote on it.

In what has become an almost annual effort, D.C.'s non-voting U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton has again introduced the New Columbia Admissions Act (H.R. 292), which would clear the way for statehood and at last afford D.C. citizens "taxation with representation."

Should the New Columbia Admissions Act be passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, residents of the District of Columbia would then vote on a proposition calling for statehood. Should voters approve the proposition, the District would immediately be admitted into the Union as the State of New Columbia.

The State of New Columbia would operate under a state constitution adopted by the D.C. statehood convention in 1982.

As required by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, the White House, the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court and the National Mall would remain under the control of Congress and not be a part of the State of New Columbia.

For years, the residents of the District of Columbia have decried the fact that they pay federal taxes, but do not have full representation in the U.S. Congress.  Serving as the District's lone congressional delegate, Rep. Norton is allowed to introduce bills and take part in debate, but cannot vote on the passage of bills.

"To be content with less is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of our residents as citizens of the United States," Norton said in remarks introducing the bill. "It is too late for the residents of the District of Columbia to make such a concession as we approach the 212th year in our fight for equal treatment in our country."

While citizens of the District of Columbia elect the city's mayor and council, Congress maintains ultimate control of the city, including the power to overturn local laws passed by the city council. With enactment of the 23rd Amendment in 1961, the District of Columbia was granted three electoral college votes in presidential elections.

Along with a growing list of cosponsors to her own New Columbia Admissions Act, Rep. Norton has gained the support of an influential group of Senators, including Tom Carper (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who have introduced an accompanying New Columbia Admissions Act (S. 132) in the Senate.

"Washington, D.C. is not just a collection of government offices, monuments and museums; it is home to more than 600,000 people who work, study, raise families, and start businesses," Sen. Carper told the Senate. "These citizens serve in our military, fight in our wars, die for our country, and pay federal taxes. But when it comes to having a voice in Congress, suddenly these men and women do not count."

Also See: Federalism: Powers of National and State Government

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