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Why Statehood?

May 6, 2021

Something’s happening in Washington, DC and it has very little to do with the White House—at least for now. It’s a battle between two groups of people: those who want Washington, DC to become a state and those who don’t. Simple, right? Well, not really. Unlike other cities, Washington, DC is also a district and the capital of the United States. Those characteristics make this place very unique and, historically speaking, it was meant to be that way. (Side note: Washington, DC was established by the founding fathers as a distinct part of the US government so that no one state had more influence over the federal government than the other.) Fast forward a few hundred years and those living in the district started wondering why they weren’t given the same benefits as a state.

Washington, DC

What are some of these benefits, you might be wondering? One of the most notable is the ability to have a vote in Congress. Currently, one person represents Washington, DC in the House of Representatives. Great, right? Sure, but while she gets to argue for or against proposed legislation, she doesn’t get to vote on any of them. Furthermore, residents of Washington, DC pay more federal tax per capita than other cities. And if states are determined purely based on population size then DC should, in fact, be a state because its population size of over 700,000 exceeds that of Wyoming and Vermont! With all these arguments in favor of granting DC statehood, why hasn’t it happened yet? Well, like most things involving the government, it’s complicated. With statehood comes representation in Congress and in the Electoral College … yeah, those are the votes that ultimately determine who becomes the president of the United States. As a heavily democratic area, Washington, DC would most likely favor the Democratic Party in future elections. Would Republicans want Democrats to have extra electoral votes? Furthermore, some have argued that Washington, DC should remain a neutral place where the federal government should function without outside influence. If Washington, DC becomes a state, would there be bias at the federal level? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would grant Washington, DC statehood. It’s now up to the Senate to review and decide on the bill. Will Washington, DC become a state? Only time will tell.