Greater Greater Washington

DC now bigger than Vermont, still has no votes in Congress

The Census Bureau just released their population estimates for the states and territories. DC has just passed Vermont in population, and was already larger than Wyoming.


Photo by allison_dc on Flickr.

The estimate now puts DC at 632,323. Vermont has 626,011. The District is also the 2nd fastest-growing state or territory, growing 2.15% from July 2011 to July 2012, second only to North Dakota's 2.17%. (Thanks to EdTheRed for the tip!)

This means that 6 voting members of the House and Senate now represent places with smaller population than the District, with zero. 4 Democratic Senators, including retiring Senator Joe Lieberman, just introduced a bill supporting statehood for DC, which is very welcome, but would be even more welcome before the very end of the Congressional session, when there's no time for a hearing, let alone action.

Update: The Census didn't release numbers for cities and counties, but DC probably now has more people than Baltimore. We shouldn't root for Baltimore stagnation, though. It would be great if people looking for walkable neighborhoods and working in places like Fort Meade also considered Baltimore. Maryland could help push this by investing in MARC service and funding the Baltimore Red Line rather than focusing primarily on sprawl highways.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Ab bill that like most introduced legislation, will advance nowhere.

by JJ on Dec 20, 2012 12:11 pm • linkreport

Don't worry. Now that the demographics are changing, DC will eventually get voting representation.

by ceefer66 on Dec 20, 2012 12:24 pm • linkreport

ceefer66, this isn't about demographics. If it were Democrats would support statehood. It's about not wanting to share power, which is why DC is screwed.

by David C on Dec 20, 2012 1:01 pm • linkreport

I think DC has a better chance of being granted statehood then it does receiving voting representation in Congress.

by Fitz on Dec 20, 2012 1:12 pm • linkreport

DavidC,

Not only is it about Republicans not wanting share power, it's also about demographics, in addition to perception.

Let's face it. For decades, DC was perceived as a majority poor black city. And the Barry years certainly didn't help its image.

Now DC, for better or worse, is gentrifying and has become a mecca for affluent, mostly white young professionals and empty-nesters (thank God I had the good sense not to sell). That will certainly have an effect on DC's ability to get Congress to listen, not spite of politics, but because of it.

For a while, they've floated idea of giving an additional seat in the House to a sure-bet Republican state like Utah in exchange for a voting representative for DC. I think that would be easier to accomplish, given today's DC demographics.

by ceefer66 on Dec 20, 2012 1:55 pm • linkreport

Don't worry. Now that the demographics are changing, DC will eventually get voting representation.

That certainly explains DC's representation in Congress prior to the 1950s. Oh, wait....

by Vicente Fox on Dec 20, 2012 2:15 pm • linkreport

@Fitz

Wouldn't hat accomplish both? :-)

by Adam L on Dec 20, 2012 2:20 pm • linkreport

Not only is it about Republicans not wanting share power, it's also about demographics, in addition to perception.

If Democrats were fully behind the idea of this, DC would've had it long ago. Since they aren't..it won't happen and I actually don't believe DC having more young professional white folk will change the Congress's position. If they do, I don't' think demographics will have much say since they most likely will be Democrats anyway..which doesn't give Republicans (who now oppose it) much room to grow.

by HogWash on Dec 20, 2012 2:49 pm • linkreport

DC should just be given to Maryland anyways. Back to whence it came.

by Ironchef on Dec 20, 2012 2:53 pm • linkreport

Ironchef:

1. Maryland doesn´t want DC.
2. DC doesn´t want Maryland.
3. If that were to ever to happen, DC would instantly become Maryland´s largest city overnight. The balance of power in state would shift quite dramatically. Also, it would be a hefty lift for a state that is not all that big to begin with.

by revitalizer on Dec 20, 2012 3:06 pm • linkreport

Just saw that Lieberman wants to call the DC-state New Columbia, i.e. N.C. Or was that North Carolina? Bad name. Shows how poorly this bill is considered.

by Jasper on Dec 20, 2012 3:17 pm • linkreport

1. US citizens in DC deserves Statehood
2. US Citizens in Puerto Rico voted to ask to be admitted to the Union as a state in November.
3. Most Republicans support Puerto Rico becoming a state
4. Most Democrats support DC becoming a state
Why not admit them together as the 51 and 52nd states?

by John Capozzi on Dec 20, 2012 3:50 pm • linkreport

@Jasper:

The legislation passed by the DC Council authorizing the new state refer to it as "New Columbia." This isnt a Lieberman made up term.

by Rolph on Dec 20, 2012 4:08 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

"New Columbia" is the anticipated name of the state - it's been around for some time: look at the DC Code - before you get to the formal titles, there's a part called "Constitution for the State of New Columbia". http://government.westlaw.com/linkedslice/default.asp?SP=DCC-1000

by Lucre on Dec 20, 2012 4:20 pm • linkreport

Whether it's been around for a while or not doesn't change the fact that 'New Columbia' is a terrible name.

MA, VA, PA, and KY are all still 'commonwealths,' despite that term having no legal meaning (they are states). In the event of DC Statehood, DC should remain the District of Columbia.

by Alex B. on Dec 20, 2012 4:25 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Tom M on Dec 20, 2012 4:34 pm • linkreport

ceefer66, it's not just Republicans not wanting to share power, it's Democrats too. If Democrats wanted it to happen, they would have done it in 2009, when they could've padded their margin in the Senate with a simple vote. But they didn't because they don't. And neither do Republicans. You're in pretty bad shape when neither party supports your goals. And making DC whiter isn't going to change that.

by David C on Dec 20, 2012 4:40 pm • linkreport

Puerto Ricans didn't exactly "Vote for Statehood"

1. It was a non-binding reforendum, which probably attracted a different set of voters.
2. There were actually two votes, the first of which was the status quo vs. a change. A narrow majority (52.4%) voted for change. But 44.7% voted for things to stay the same. The rest were blank or portests.
3. The second vote was for IF things change, would voters prefer statehood, independence or a status similar to Guams. Of ballots cast in this vote, only 44.9% chose statehood. 4.2% chose independence. 25% chose free association. And ther rest were blank or protest.
4. So only 44.9% chose statehood, and that's when the status quo was no longer an option. If the vote were statehood or not, statehood would not win.

Therefore tying our statehood bid to theirs is likely to fail, because they don't want it.

by David C on Dec 20, 2012 4:50 pm • linkreport

Fine, some people think New Columbia is a bad name. It is, I'll note the name chosen by our elected officials, and I'm not sure why anyone would think that their sense of style is better than everyone else's, but whatevs. In the end, I don't care. They can call us Pooptown if they give me the right to vote.

by David C on Dec 20, 2012 4:53 pm • linkreport

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/07/politics/election-puerto-rico/index.html

62% chose statehood in second round.

by Guest on Dec 20, 2012 4:56 pm • linkreport

No. 62% of those who cast ballots that were not blank voted for statehood. Nearly 30% of all voters refused to vote in the 2nd vote as a protest that the status quo was not an option. By casting ballots that were blank on that hey were, in effect, voting to not change.

by David C on Dec 20, 2012 5:15 pm • linkreport

Even if the vote in Puerto Rico were 62% in favor of statehood (and it wasn't really, as David C points out), I don't see Congress admitting a state with only 62% support for statehood. Politics aside, Congress isn't looking to add any lukewarm states. I don't know if opinion polling was done at the time Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union, but the sense with those, and certainly with prior new states, was that the public was overwhelmingly in favor of statehood. Congress is not likely to admit a state where the principal language is not even English, where barely half the residents seem to want statehood, and where a sizeable percentage actually want to be less connected to the U.S. (independence, "free association") than they are now.

by mike on Dec 20, 2012 5:30 pm • linkreport

As long as people like Marion Barry are running things, the residents of Wash DC will not be trusted with full citizenship. Clean house, boot out the crooks and druggies, and maybe.....

by Steve on Dec 20, 2012 6:24 pm • linkreport

In 1950, Washington DC was bigger than thirteen states, plus Alaska and Hawaii, which were not yet states:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1950_census#State_Rankings

by Dave Murphy on Dec 20, 2012 6:31 pm • linkreport

@AlexB & @David C

I wholeheartedly agree that New Columbia is a crummy name. I would like to keep District of Columbia as our name, but I don't care that much. Some of the statehood strategies would preclude keeping that name though (eg shrink the federal "District" to essentially the Mall, and let the rest of the place be a new state): in that case, I think it would be better to try to at least keep the initials "DC". I will refrain from wasting time now postulating some embarrassing things that could stand for.

As to the update about Baltimore, that makes me sad. Baltimore is a lot bigger physically than DC, and se-he-heriously needs some love. While I'm proud of my "state"'s continued growth, and more personally invested in conditions here, I lived in Baltimore for a while too, and even back when it was significantly bigger than DC the abandoned property there was a defining characteristic of the place.

by Lucre on Dec 20, 2012 6:40 pm • linkreport

The District is also the 2nd fastest-growing state or territory
Not to worry, its population will magically drop between 2019 and 2020, just like New York, Chicago, and Atlanta's populations magically dropped between 2009 and 2010. Cities definitionally don't grow faster than suburbs; if reality says they are growing, reality is in error.

by Alon Levy on Dec 20, 2012 8:20 pm • linkreport

I fully realize that niether Maryland nor DC want retrocession, but I honestly believe that that is the only way Washington could actually achieve voting representation. Statehood is a non-starter in Congress, and voting representation without becoming a state would face a lot of constitutional challenges with the conservative majority on the current SCOTUS.

Besides, as much as I want more Democrats in Congress, I actually think that retrocession could be more beneficial for regional politics. Right now, DC is surrounded by two states that see the district as a competitor for jobs and investment. The District is seperated from its suburbs in a way that virtually no other city experiences. This creates a mindset can result in a race to the bottom and creates administrative issues. If DC were part of Maryland, there would still be conflicts between city-dwellers and suburbanites, but they would be played out in Annapolis. I think mutually beneficial compromises on regional issues could be reached far more easily in a statehouse environment than in the current setup, where each jurisdiction tries to get the biggest slice of the pie.

by Michael on Dec 21, 2012 12:13 am • linkreport

Statehood for DC must come with creation of a Republican state in order to be viable. Most states were admitted in pairs (free/slave, Democratic/Republican). I think our best shot is to convince Californians to split. Several states have contemplated splitting, but California's movement is the most advanced, with Republicans in that state leading the charge, and the state is way too large to have just two Senators and one governor. Millions of Republicans in the state probably feel disenfranchised, so it's time for DC residents to reach out to CA GOP to make this happen.

by Steve Glazerman on Dec 21, 2012 12:44 am • linkreport

Most states were admitted in pairs (free/slave, Democratic/Republican).

That's not really accurate. 12 states were admitted as pairs prior to the Civil War. And Alaska and Hawaii were admitted together because Alaska would be Democratic and Hawaii Republican (not a typo) but that is really it. Other states were allowed to pursue statehood simultaneously [Washington, the Dakotas and Montana all at once for instance] but that was because they were part of the same territory or other reasons, not for political balancing.

by David C on Dec 21, 2012 1:41 am • linkreport

By the way, the threshold for statehood when Wyoming and Idaho became states was 60,000 people.

by David C on Dec 21, 2012 1:44 am • linkreport

As long as people like Marion Barry are running things, the residents of Wash DC will not be trusted with full citizenship. Clean house, boot out the crooks and druggies, and maybe.....

A lot of people say this, but I think Council Member Barry has been fully marginalized. OTOH, our fiery and confrontational congressional delegate probably undermines this cause far more than she helps it. As Ms. Norton was never a drug addict nor a crook.

by goldfish on Dec 21, 2012 2:30 am • linkreport

Several states have contemplated splitting, but California's movement is the most advanced

No it's not. I assume you are referring to the proposal made by a Riverside county supervisor earlier this year. No one took it seriously then, and it's been essentially forgotten already. Very few CA residents take the idea of breaking up seriously, and there are a lot of real problems that would come with breaking up (the Riverside guy's proposal never considered them, which is part of why it was forgotten).

I'm from CA, and personally think there is a lot to be said for breaking it into 3 states, but it isn't gonna happen.

by JW on Dec 21, 2012 4:33 am • linkreport

One way to grow the economy is to add more legal immigration including new states. Let’s just do it. The number 50 is not important and forget redesigning the flag.

by Andrew on Dec 21, 2012 6:04 am • linkreport

What if the parts of northern Virginia that were excised from the original District of Columbia in the 1800's were added back and a new state created with those original boundaries? Could that change the political make-up enough to garner more non-Democratic support for statehood?

by Emil on Dec 21, 2012 7:01 am • linkreport

Northern Virginia would love to get out, but Richmond will never let go of the cash cow. (And Norfolk/Hampton Roads would be against it, because then they'd be the only ones on the hook for funding highway projects in southwest Virginia.)

by Mike on Dec 21, 2012 7:44 am • linkreport

@ Rolph and others:The legislation passed by the DC Council authorizing the new state refer to it as "New Columbia." This isnt a Lieberman made up term.

Ok, well then clearly the DC Council is not serious about this either. No sane political body would propose a name that abbreviates to the name of an existing state. For that matter, just Columbia is bad as well, because CO and CA are also taken. USPS is not gonna change their two-letter abbreviations for a new state. So, New Columbia would become NA or something, following the first-last letter convention that works for a lot of states (ME, VT, PA, MD, DE, VA, GA, LA, CA, etc). NE is taken as well.

Why not pick something fun, Ellington or so?

by Jasper on Dec 21, 2012 8:34 am • linkreport

Fun? Call it "Barryland". Or maybe "East Washington".

by Mike on Dec 21, 2012 8:53 am • linkreport

Ellington?! Wow. New Columbia is terrible but this is worse.

Oh God, what a huge problem with the postal code thing! How did we ever deal with states that have the same beginning letters? Arizona, Alaska, Missouri, Maryland, nobody can understand it!

They would probably just keep it DC no matter what the state's name.

by MLD on Dec 21, 2012 9:03 am • linkreport

As Ms. Norton was never a drug addict nor a crook.

She was a tax cheat, however.

by Vicente Fox on Dec 21, 2012 9:28 am • linkreport

"What if the parts of northern Virginia that were excised from the original District of Columbia in the 1800's were added back and a new state created with those original boundaries? Could that change the political make-up enough to garner more non-Democratic support for statehood? "

It might get Va GOP support - I think theyd rather lose the ArlCo $$ (they would still keep the much bigger Fairfax $$) then have to deal with the lib dem vote in ArlCo. Va Dems would oppose it - they lose both $$ AND political support. And you'd have to come up with some arrangement so that Arlingtonians wanting to attend an instate state U, don't have to accept UDC as a sub for UVa, VTech, and W&M. Otherwise almost every Arlington family with middle and high school students will fight it tooth and nail, whatever they feel about guns, gay marriage, or highway expenditures.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 21, 2012 9:35 am • linkreport

Some years back there was serious (or, considering the sponsors, not so serious) talk of combining DC and PG County into a "New Columbia" state. The thought was this would address critics who said that DC was too small on its own to be a state. Marion Barry seemed supportive. Can you imagine what a dysfunctional state that would have been??

by Alf on Dec 21, 2012 9:57 am • linkreport

I wouldn't let postal abbreviations drive the name of a state. Still, IF statehood were ever to happen, District of Columbia could easiest be changed to State of Columbia, or perhaps Washington - Columbia.

Still, I'm reminded of the old Jay Leno joke going back to the sorry Barry era: Marion Barry shouldn't be Mayor of the District of Columia. He's better suited to be mayor of a district in Colombia.

by Alf on Dec 21, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

If DC became a state, the postal abbreviation would remain DC, no matter what the name. I seem to remember the post office actually ruling on that.

by David C on Dec 21, 2012 11:59 am • linkreport

Does anyone actually believe that DC will become a state before USPS disappears?

by Mike on Dec 21, 2012 1:02 pm • linkreport

Forget DC going to MD, how about this. We take the surrounding counties of northern VA, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Alexandria annex them plus the city of Washington and call it all New Columbia.

If some of the Maryland suburbs want to join they can too I guess, but do we New Columbians really want them?

by Alex35332 on Dec 21, 2012 1:48 pm • linkreport

Alex343234342,

You're talking about "The Beltway State." This idea - and many more - were discussed in the 1996 book "Public Opinion and the Political Future of the Nation's Capital." Very little of what is discussed there has changed, despite the end of the control board, DC financial stability and a more positive opinion of DC by the general public.

http://books.google.com/books?id=1luXzUQ5nCAC&hl=en

by David C on Dec 21, 2012 2:33 pm • linkreport

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but because we are a *federal* republic, having the seat of power for the nation outside the jurisdiction of any single state makes sense to me.

by Rich on Dec 21, 2012 4:20 pm • linkreport

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but because we are a *federal* republic, having the seat of power for the nation outside the jurisdiction of any single state makes sense to me.

Makes perfect sense. Several countries have federal districts.

That doesn't explain or somehow justify the denial of representation in the national governing body for people that live in that federal district, however.

by Alex B. on Dec 21, 2012 4:35 pm • linkreport

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but because we are a *federal* republic, having the seat of power for the nation outside the jurisdiction of any single state makes sense to me.

What Alex B said, plus it also doesn't make that much sense. How would things be worse for the country if DC were in Maryland?

by David C on Dec 21, 2012 4:46 pm • linkreport

Switzerland and Canada do fine without special-purpose federal districts. Germany does fine without a federal district designated as such, though Berlin is a separate state, like Hamburg and Bremen.

by Alon Levy on Dec 22, 2012 12:01 am • linkreport

DC should become a state when the Northern Mariana Islands become a state. Both should be after Puerto Rico, Guam and America Samoa.

Why have just one very tiny city state, if DC should be a state than so should
Chicago and Cook County Illinois,
City of New York
Houston plus Harris, Brazoria and Galveston Counties

by kk on Dec 22, 2012 2:57 pm • linkreport

DC should become a state when the Northern Mariana Islands become a state. Both should be after Puerto Rico, Guam and America Samoa.

How do you get to that order? When you look at the criteria for statehood that Congress has historically used, only PR could make an argument that they are more deserving (for reasons of population). What's your reasoning.

As for those other areas, they are welcome to ask to be craved out into their own states. In fact, Houston doesn't even need the permission of Congress to do so. As near as I can tell, none have. So I think the answer to your question is that there are no other city states asking for statehood.

I'll throw it back at you. Why shouldn't DC be a state? What does square mileage have to do with fitness for statehood?

by David C on Dec 22, 2012 3:12 pm • linkreport

@ David C

The original plan calls for the federal capital not to be in any state. If DC becomes a state you are completely ignoring that and it’s a kick in the face to Maryland and Virginia as they did not agree to it. If Maryland and Virginia are compensated for DC becoming a state and the Constitution is amendment to allow states of any size than fine. Otherwise DC should not be a state.

If it does try to be one without those happening there should be a Constitutional Convention to fix some problems or some amendments should be repealed or changed if asked for by states.

The US territories should become states simply for the s**t that they and the people there have been through since becoming involved with the USA during WW1 and WW2. There have been many lives lost fighting for the US in the wars. They currently have minimum wages which are lower than anywhere else in the USA from just below $3.00 to 6.00 with the exception of a few places. The infrastructure is no up to par with other parts of the USA. Much of the land is taken up for military bases. The Pacific Territories have mostly gotten the bad side of being with the USA since WW1 or 2 and not the good. They have even offered to go in as one state together and that did not happen.

by kk on Dec 22, 2012 4:59 pm • linkreport

So a few 18th-century slaveowners thought the capital should not be in any state, or even its own state, and shouldn't have federal representation. Big deal. Fortunately, we have about 200 years of democratic political history to draw on and figure out what actually is necessary for the functioning of a democratic state and what isn't.

by Alon Levy on Dec 22, 2012 6:16 pm • linkreport

@Alon Levy: the founders had very good reasons to keep the capitol out of a state, having immediately lived through the Philadelphia Mutiny in 1783. Armed militia troops surrounded the Capitol, demanding pay from the national Confederation (this was before the Constitution was adopted) did not have. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania did nothing; it was quite a dilemma.

by goldfish on Dec 22, 2012 6:50 pm • linkreport

And if Maryland militia had walked across the District Line in 1795 how would that have been any different? The recourse the federal govt would have had - to any standing army troops, or to militias from other states - would have been the same.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 22, 2012 8:30 pm • linkreport

The difference, which still remains, is that ultimately the preeminent authority for all DC agencies is Congress. MPD is the one local law enforcement force in the country that could be placed under direct federal command in an emergency (the current interpretation of the 10th Amendment prohibits USG from taking over any other local/state agency). Obviously it is debatable how useful that power is today, but it is a power that would disappear if DC became a state.

by JW on Dec 22, 2012 11:05 pm • linkreport

The original plan calls for the federal capital not to be in any state. If DC becomes a state you are completely ignoring that

Well, the original plan also called for some people to be owned like cattle and for women to not be allowed to vote. So...I think it's OK to ignore the original plan when it doesn't make sense.

it’s a kick in the face to Maryland and Virginia as they did not agree to it.

Virginia took it's part back. And Maryland would be fine with DC as a state. Are they protesting?

If Maryland and Virginia are compensated for DC becoming a state and the Constitution is amendment to allow states of any size than fine. Otherwise DC should not be a state.

Wow... Again, Virginia was already made whole. And there is no constitutional limit on the geographic size of a state. Congress could make my back yard a state if they so chose. So no amendment needed. No constitutional convention needed. You know what you need a constitutional convention for? Ratifying a Constitution. Do you think we need a new Constitution? [Because if so, I have a lot of great ideas]

The US territories should become states simply for the s**t that they and the people there have been through since becoming involved with the USA during WW1 and WW2. There have been many lives lost fighting for the US in the wars.

Well, DC certainly has no grievances with their lot. Unless you count nearly centuries without any sort of home rule, lack of control over our own laws, taxation without representation and losing citizens to every single war all the way back to the Revolution. But you know what we haven't had - anyone ever ask us what we wanted. All of the other territories have had a shot at leaving and chose not to.

They have even offered to go in as one state together and that did not happen.

When did that happen?

by David C on Dec 22, 2012 11:28 pm • linkreport

The problem with an amendment is that the DC voting rights amendment was passed by Congress in 1978, but was ratified by only 16 states before it expired.

by goldfish on Dec 23, 2012 1:36 am • linkreport

I think the anti-statehood arguments have been well skewered here so I won't add to the excellent rebuttals above.

I still think that we need a practical solution to get past the politics of admitting such a strongly Democratic state. I maintain that it would require admitting a majority-Republican state. I would love to hear an alternative, but I still don't see anything better than dividing California.

There is a lot to work with there -- north/south, coastal/inland, etc. Any solution will have problems, but I suspect the coalition of beneficiaries in both CA and DC will be larger than the opponents, and certainly larger than the group of voices currently advocating for DC statehood now.

I would love nothing more than for DC to be admitted as is and shrink the District down to the National Capital Service Area, with zero residences except the White House, but practically I don't think we can get there without some creativity.

by Steve Glazerman on Dec 26, 2012 4:48 pm • linkreport

Steve, I appreciate your creativity, but if our best chance hinges on dividing California, we're screwed.

I think we need to make our case to Democrats, let them see the strategic advantage of two more Democratic Senators, and then wait for them to get into another super-majority situation wherein they can cram DC Statehood down the throats of Republicans. In this day of partisan politics above common decency, that's probably our best chance.

by David C on Dec 26, 2012 5:00 pm • linkreport

What is now the District of Columbia came from Maryland territory.

There is adequate precedent for retrocession. In 1845, Congress retroceded (what is now) Arlington County and most of the City of Alexandria back to Virginia in 1845, and it could do the same with the present-day District of Columbia by retroceding it back to Maryland (optionally minus a "federal" area as @Steve Glazerman suggested above and is defined in federal law here).

As others have suggested, the biggest opposition to retrocession might just come from Baltimore City interests in the Maryland General Assembly (and Congress), but thanks to population loss, the city has lost much of its clout in both places.

But it would be a gain for Maryland (in terms of tax revenue, which is something Baltimore should carefully consider, given that the city is so dependent on subsidies from Annapolis) and a gain for D.C., for it would give D.C. residents real, voting representation in Congress.

There would be a lot of institutional matters to be worked out with regards to policing, fire and EMS protection, the status of foreign missions, the restrictions on building height and related matters, but is that insurmountable?

The 23rd Amendment would have to be repealed.

And D.C. residents would have a municipal government with true powers, not generally subject to meddling by members of Congress or the Maryland General Assembly (given that Maryland gives its "home rule" jurisdictions a lot of authority to run things with relatively little interference from Annapolis).

by C. P. Zilliacus on Dec 27, 2012 4:59 pm • linkreport

"New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."

This makes the CA division plan really hard. Depending on how you read the punctuation, perhaps CA legislature could approve, but the more textual reading is that dividing CA into is forbidden even with the CA legislture's and Congress' consent.

by adam on Dec 27, 2012 5:45 pm • linkreport

but the more textual reading is that dividing CA into is forbidden even with the CA legislture's and Congress' consent.

Forbidden, even with the consent of Congress and the State legislatures?

How, then, did we end up with West Virginia?

---

The debate about statehood for DC often misses the key point of the problem in the first place: that there are 630,000 American Citizens that do not have representation in congress, despite being fully taxed.

Statehood is a solution that solves both the issues of taxation without representation, as well as home rule. However, those are indeed two separate issues.

by Alex B. on Dec 27, 2012 6:05 pm • linkreport

C.P., I don't think anyone has argued that Congress can't retrocede DC into Maryland. The primary problems are that Maryland doesn't want DC and DC doesn't want to be part of Maryland. A poll of Maryland state legislators showed that 90% opposed retrocession. So do you force a shotgun wedding? Bribe both groups like crazy?

DC and Maryland citizens oppose retrocession.
US citizens oppose statehood.
Every other "solution" is incomplete (and there is no sign that they're any more popular)

by David C on Dec 27, 2012 6:56 pm • linkreport

@kk:
Unlike those of the insular territories, DC residents pay federal income taxes.

@Alex B.:

I've always been frustrated that people focus on statehood when discussing solutions for DC's lack of voting representation. Seems to me that it'd be easier to get popular support for granting DC representation in the Senate and the House (which would require a constitutional amendment) than full on statehood since people seem to think our federal government is as weak as it was in 1787 and a state could run roughshod over the Feds (smh). Still politically difficult given the fact that the Reps wouldn't want to add more Dem votes in Congress but wouldn't the people support voting rights more so than statehood?

by 7r3y3r on Dec 27, 2012 10:31 pm • linkreport

7r3y3r,

A Constitutional amendment is very difficult. Look at the requirements. It requires a 2/3 majority in both houses and then it has to be ratified by 3/4 of all the states.

Statehood on the other hand is a matter of law. Simple majority in the House and a simple majority (or 60 votes perhaps) in the Senate and then signature by the President. That's a much easier path. There's a reason why laws are common and amendments are rare.

The reason to focus on statehood is that of all the "complete solution" options, it is the easiest to accomplish.

by David C on Dec 27, 2012 11:05 pm • linkreport

I'd say a more practical option would be to repeal the portions of the Organic Act of 1800 that denied DC residents the Congressional representation that they had until then. Once again, the District of Columbia would be treated as being part of Maryland for purposes of Congressional representation, but otherwise it would remain the independent city it is today.

Given its exclusive jurisdiction, Congress could then define the boundary of one Congressional District as coterminous with the DC line, and DC and Maryland residents would share the two Senators.

This approach has the advantages of retrocession without the big disadvantage of putting the District back into Maryland. Outside of Maryland and DC, this option would be far more popular than giving DC two new Senators. While some Marylanders would not be pleased to see their vote diluted, people would not fall on their sword to stop it.

by JimT on Dec 28, 2012 12:54 am • linkreport

JimT,

But you've breezed over the most important point. Neither the citizens of Maryland or the citizens of DC want retrocession. So again, how do you fix that? A shotgun wedding? Bribing both sides?

by David C on Dec 28, 2012 9:52 am • linkreport

I think we need to make our case to Democrats, let them see the strategic advantage of two more Democratic Senators, and then wait for them to get into another super-majority situation wherein they can cram DC Statehood down the throats of Republicans.

Tried that. Didn't work. We need Republicans to get this done.

by Steve Glazerman on Dec 28, 2012 10:22 am • linkreport

I am suggesting repeal of the law denying DC residents the right to vote, not retrocession.

by JimT on Dec 28, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

@JimT not good enough to get voting rights. We need full budget autonomy, and the right to tax income at its source. Statehood addresses this permanently.

by Steve Glazerman on Dec 28, 2012 10:37 am • linkreport

I'm not sure there is a portion of the law you could repeal. It was just that when the Organic Act was passed, the District was formed and so people no longer lived in Maryland or Virginia but in this new place.

You would probably have to pass a new law that said that DC residents could vote for Maryland senators and that DC be considered a congressional district of Maryland but not subject to redistricting or counted as Maryland population when determining the number of representatives. I'm not sure if this would be constitutional.

None of the paths are easy. Statehood is probably the least (but still) complicated path, in that it doesn't require cooperation from anyone but the Senate/House/President.

by MLD on Dec 28, 2012 10:44 am • linkreport

JimT, you said putting the District back into Maryland. How is that different than retrocession? Would DC citizens not be citizens of Maryland? Would they vote for governor?

by David C on Dec 28, 2012 10:46 am • linkreport

@Steve, we didn't really. We frittered around with the single, possibly unconstitutional, representative. And even if we did, the answer is to keep trying. There is no hope of a Republican solution to this issue.

by David C on Dec 28, 2012 10:48 am • linkreport

@David C
JimT, you said putting the District back into Maryland. How is that different than retrocession? Would DC citizens not be citizens of Maryland? Would they vote for governor?

He said:
Once again, the District of Columbia would be treated as being part of Maryland for purposes of Congressional representation, but otherwise it would remain the independent city it is today.
and
This approach has the advantages of retrocession without the big disadvantage of putting the District back into Maryland.

So I don't think your characterization is correct. It's pretty clear what JimT is talking about; treating DC residents as part of Maryland only for the purpose of determining congressional representation and voting for senate/house.

by MLD on Dec 28, 2012 11:07 am • linkreport

@MLD: Section 2 of the 14th amendment says: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

As DC residents are NOT residents of MD, the idea is clearly unconstitutional; which means that an amendment will be necessary.

As an amendment will be needed either way, why not just do it right and straightforwardly give DC representation?

by goldfish on Dec 28, 2012 11:23 am • linkreport

@David C. I think I said "without the big disadvantage of putting the District back into Maryland." The "without" changes the meaning quite a bit. But perhaps I should elaborate to nmake the point more clear.

Two things happenned a few centuries ago.

1. Congress set the boundaries for what became the District of Columbia. Under the Constitution, Congress has exclusive jurisdiction over federal enclaves (e.g. military bases) and the nation's capital. People living in Georgetown continued to vote for Congress as residents of Maryland, just as people living within a military camp in Maryland can do so.

2. In 1800, Congress took away the right of people within the District of Columbia to vote for Congress. (It did not take away the right to vote for people living in federal enclaves.)

My personal view is that this action should have been viewed as unconstitutional, since "exclusive jurisdiction" does not mean the power to disenfranchise--but since the US Supreme Court says otherwise, we must accept it. Still, this is an injustice enacted by statute, which can be repealed by statute.

So simply undo (2) but not (1).

For Steve Glazeman, I think we have been talking about representation in this thread, so I am sticking to that issue. But I would say that budget (and regulatory) autonomy is more likely once DC has Congressional representation.

by JimT on Dec 28, 2012 11:24 am • linkreport

@Goldfish: Your suggestion that a Constitutional Amendment is necessary to allow DC residents to vote with Maryland for Congressional representation, appears to be wrong for two separate reasons.
a. Residents of DC continued to vote in Maryland until a statute denied the right to vote in 1800.
b. The US Supreme Court has held that the "exclusive jurisdiction" clause is so broad it gives Congress the power to disenfranchise. Surely that clause must give Congress the far lesser power of setting the boundaries for the seat of government without changing the residency of citizens for purposes of Congressional representation.

by JimT on Dec 28, 2012 11:31 am • linkreport

Residents of DC continued to vote in Maryland until a statute denied the right to vote in 1800.

That's because as far as I can tell DC was not incorporated prior to the Organic Act of 1800; so while Maryland and Virginia ceded the land in 1790 the laws of those states still applied until the District was incorporated as a separate entity. As a consequence those people living in the District were no longer residents of Maryland or Virginia but of the District. So it's not as if the district was already separate and had the arrangement with Maryland/Virginia for voting, and then Congress took that away. The arrangement only existed because the District really wasn't separate yet.

by MLD on Dec 28, 2012 11:45 am • linkreport

JimT,

OK, I got confused by what you were suggesting.

But what you're suggesting still leaves DC residents as lessor citizens. DC residents would not be able to vote on Constitutional amendments at the state legislature level. If our Senator vacated her seat, the replacement would be appointed by a governor whom we did not elect. Would DC have a voice in Contingent elections and would that be as part of Maryland or alone? Either way, it is an incomplete solution.

And then of course there is the question of why would Maryland agree to such a plan? They would lose voice in the Senate and gain nothing in return.

by David C on Dec 28, 2012 11:46 am • linkreport

And while we're at it. Which election laws would be followed in DC? DC's or Maryland's? Would DC have to have it's primary on the day that Maryland chose - even though we don't vote for their legislature? What about campaign finance laws? And there are probably more sticky issues I'm missing.

by David C on Dec 28, 2012 11:49 am • linkreport

@JimT: maybe, but what happened in 1800 was before the 14th amendment was passed. That changed things.

Or it could be that the voting that occurred before 1800 was unconstitutional, but nobody saw fit to challenge it in court. You can be sure if the changes you suggest do come to pass, that they would be challenged by whomever stands to lose.

by goldfish on Dec 28, 2012 11:58 am • linkreport

@Goldfish: Can you elaborate on how you think the 14th Amendment would change things?

The question about pre-1800 being an unconstitutional process is interesting. Here is why I doubt it. Go back and look at the District clause and you see that the Constitution treats federal enclaves and the seat of government in precisely the same manner. Nothing in the text suggests that creation of these enclaves or the seat of government changes the state boundary or the state of residency of those people who live within the enclaves or seat of government.

The term "exclusive jurisdiction" does not mean that a military base or the seat of government is no longer within the state, it just means that the state has no jurisdiction.

The natural meaning of the Constitution's text is, in fact, how we have treated the federal enclaves.

The denial of voting rights to DC residents--the only tangible sense in which they remained Maryland or Virginia citizens--naturally led to a general sense that DC residents are not residents of the state from which teh capital was drawn. But that does not change the legal statyus for Constitutional purposes.

So I'd say that the odds that the US Constitution can be invoked to deny voting rights to a resident of a federal enclave is very low. DC residents have the same status.

@David C: There are certainly practical issues to be worked out if the disenfranchisement statute is ever repealed. One might speculate about how things would have progressed had that statute never been enacted to begin with, and try to do something comparable. Different counties each have their own boards or elections as it is, so it would seem reasonable to treat DC the same way that Baltimore is treated for purposes of tallying votes.

You are correct that simple repeal of the disenfranchisement statute gives DC residents less rights than retrocession or statehood, but my assumption here is that retrocession is a nonstarter for DC residents. Re-enfranchisement does not preclude retrocession or statehood but is rather a way to cure the fundamental injustice of taxation without representation.

Would Maryland residents support re-enfranchisement? I think overall we'd be ambivalent. Maryland residents understand better than most US citizens the unfairness of DC's taxation without representation, and hence are more likely to see our Senate representation diluted a bit. Democrats would love to have an even safer Democratic seat, and re-enfranchisement would increase Maryland's electoral college tally. So I really doubt that any Maryland senator or representative who voted for reenfranchisment would be punished at the polls.

by JimT on Dec 28, 2012 1:19 pm • linkreport

@JimT: The 23rd amendment identifies "The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States" and determines the number of electors for president as that as DC would be entitled to "as if it were a state." Thus the existence of DC as an entity separate from the states is implicit in the 23rd amendment, and to repeal the incorporation of DC as defined in the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 would probably be unconstitutional. (If a law was passed defining DC to be just the Mall and the monument core, can you imagine giving 3 Presidential electoral votes to such an area with no residents?)

This, coupled with the 14th amendment (which nails down representation to residents of a state) means that DC probably cannot get representation without a real amendment.

by goldfish on Dec 28, 2012 1:41 pm • linkreport

JimT, Reenfranchisement, if legal, would probably be better than the status quo, but would be an incomplete solution and runs the risk of being permanent. Nothing precludes statehood or retrocession, but certainly it removes the moral imperative that forms much of the justification. Taxation without representation is something people understand. Taxation without the right to address constitutional amendments at the legislative level is a lot more nuanced.

And while some election decisions are made at the county level, others are not - and those are probably the more important issues. Our primary calendar for federal elections would be set by Maryland for instance.

I'm also less optimistic that Maryland would go along with this.

In the end though, I don't see a point in pursuing any solution that leaves us 2nd class.

by David C on Dec 28, 2012 1:42 pm • linkreport

The only serious discussion with Maryland elected officials that I have heard in my life was with then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who said he had "no problem" with retrocession.

Has anyone asked Gov. Martin O'Malley, or Maryland Senate President Mike Miller or Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Michael Busch about retroceding all or most of D.C. back to Maryland? Not that I aware.

I have not heard of any serious discussion about the subject since Schaefer left office in 1994. For the record, as a Maryland citizen since 1960, I have no problem with retrocession either (but then, I am not an elected official). But I still assert that claims that "Maryland does not want D.C. back" are unsupported by fact.

As long as the Republic Party has the votes on Capitol Hill (in either house) to prevent D.C. statehood, it will do so, given the partisan makeup of the District of Columbia (for the record, I am also a lifetime registered Democrat). I suppose that they (the Republic Party) would not have a problem with an elected D.C. member of the House of Representatives, but I suspect the real objection to D.C. statehood is the idea of two new Democratic members of the U.S. Senate.

Retrocession gives the taxpaying citizens of D.C. what they don't have now - voting representation in Congress accountable to D.C. voters, and puts a permanent end to the odious practice of members of Congress meddling in the affairs of D.C. for the benefit of voters back home (which brings back ugly names from the past like Bilbo, McMillan, Broyhill and Parris).

by C. P. Zilliacus on Dec 28, 2012 1:55 pm • linkreport

C.P., I have not seen any recent polling of Maryland lawmakers, but a poll done in 1990 showed that 82% of state delegates and 92% of state senators opposed retrocession even if Congress gave Maryland subsidy. Now things may have changed, but I don't know of any evidence of that. So, it isn't fair to claim that it isn't supported by fact. The only place where there is a lack of facts is if one tries to claim that Maryland wants to take DC back.

As long as the Republic Party has the votes on Capitol Hill (in either house) to prevent D.C. statehood, it will do so,

And therein lies the solution.

by David C on Dec 28, 2012 2:41 pm • linkreport

@Goldfish. I think your original argument is probably stronger than your 23rd Amendment argument. The 23rd Amendment provide Presidential voting rights that the District of Columbia could not have without it being a state, but that does not mean that DC can never be a state. The recognition that DC did not have specific Congressional representation in granting rights does not take away voting rights--at most it recognizes the power of Congress to have done so.

I suggest part 4-B of Adams v. Clinton. The very compellinmg arguments for why DC residents have no Constitutional right to vote as residents of Maryland, though residents of NIH do have such a right, ultimately rests on the different actions that Congress has taken, the court said. It follows that Congress could recognize those rights, it is so chose.

@DavidC: You are correct that re-enfranchisement is less valuable to DC residents than statehood, but the likelihood of adoption is greater. In my view, statehood is worth about 4 times as much as re-enfranchisement, but I think that a campaign for statehood has less than a 1/100 chance of succeeding during the next few decades, while re-enfranchisement might have about a 1/3 of being enacted if pushed hard,

If I thought statehood for DC had a 1:10 chance I would see statehood as a higher priority. But as far as I can tell, on those few occasions when the Democrats have a filubuster proof Senate and also control the House and the Presidency, the people that put those Democrats into office will be demanding major substantive actions like stopping global warming or reforming health care.

by JimT on Dec 28, 2012 7:37 pm • linkreport

C.P., I have not seen any recent polling of Maryland lawmakers, but a poll done in 1990 showed that 82% of state delegates and 92% of state senators opposed retrocession even if Congress gave Maryland subsidy. Now things may have changed, but I don't know of any evidence of that. So, it isn't fair to claim that it isn't supported by fact. The only place where there is a lack of facts is if one tries to claim that Maryland wants to take DC back.

The District of Columbia in 1990 was embroiled in the midst of the crack cocaine wars; municipal finances of the city were a disaster; the Mayor was facing federal criminal charges as a result of his arrest at the Vista Hotel; D.C. ran an inhumane complex of prisons called the Lorton Reformatory; the Metrorail Green Line was 10 years from completion - and much more.

Many of the D.C. problems from 1990 are now a distant memory. I would not draw any conclusions from a 1990 poll of any group in discussing retrocession (or anything else).

by C. P. Zilliacus on Jan 3, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

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