The House Democrats, with the assistance of President Joe Biden, will vote to approve the establishment of Washington State, Douglass Commonwealth as our 51st state today. I had testified and written about DC statehood for decades, and as noted in a recent column, I believe that the best interest of both the country and the district’s residents is retrocession, not statehood.
As mentioned earlier, there was comparatively little debate in the House about the bill, during which superficial hearings knocked it to the ground. What was naturally lacking in the house was recognition, let alone consideration of alternatives to the creation of the country’s first Vatican-like city-state. Above all, there was no discussion about what district citizens could benefit from an alternative to statehood – retrocession.
The tragedy is that we have never had a full and honest debate about the options for securing full representation rights for district residents. There is little interest in having such a national discussion or putting this question to the electorate in the form of a constitutional amendment. Polls show that despite well-funded campaigns and overwhelming media support, the majority of Americans are still against DC statehood, as they have for decades. However, there has always been a way to fully representational status through retrocession. However, the democratic leadership again interrupted the examination of these and other options in another legislative construct “take or leave”. There are also conflicting views as to whether a constitutional change is warranted and, of course, the preference of some to continue the original intent of the authors in creating a “federal city” that is not controlled by any state.
The bill is unlikely to succeed in the Senate, and we will lose another year without fully and civilly discussing these options. Instead, it will fail and deepen our divisions while encouraging calls to kill the filibuster rule. The policy remains the same as the status of the district.