Friday’s House vote will likely mark statehood’s last congressional action for the year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made clear that D.C. statehood will be given the same treatment he afforded President Barack Obama’s judicial nominations, including Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. With McConnell controlling the calendar, D.C. statehood will not see the light of day in the Senate.
The only unanswered question this week is whether any House Republican will say yes to D.C. statehood. As they have amply demonstrated in the past, it matters not to Republicans in Congress that 700,000 Americans in the District have no say in debates over war, taxes or changes in the Constitution. Republicans know that District residents pay more federal income taxes per person than the residents of any state, and D.C. provides more tax revenue to the federal government than 22 other states. Neither are they ignorant of the fact that District residents have fought and died in every American war but have no voice in decisions that throw D.C. bodies into the fight.
District residents contribute mightily to a government in which they are not represented. But this crop of Republicans in Congress, like most of their predecessors, have not lifted a finger to raise District residents from their second-class status. Instead, they remain determined that District residents must stand by, disenfranchised, as Congress decides how District revenue will be spent in the 50 states. They prefer treating District residents as U.S. subjects, deprived of the character of free American citizens.
Thus, residents in our nation’s capital cannot be who we dream to be because Republicans in Congress won’t get their knees off our necks.
Present-day reality dictates, however, that even if scales fell from the eyes of McConnell, his Senate GOP minions and House Republican troglodytes, a D.C. statehood bill will not be signed into law. Not as long as the spirit of Jefferson Davis dwells across the length and breadth of this White House.
President Trump has summarily refused to consider D.C. statehood, declaring to the New York Post that Republicans would be “very, very stupid” to embrace the idea because the District is predominantly Democratic. “So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.” Of course, Trump, once again, is loud and wrong: The bill provides for one voting member of the House.
But he is correct that a Democratic-leaning District is likely to elect Democrats to represent the 51st state. Why is that so? Step back and look at the overwhelming whiteness of House and Senate Republicans and the Trump administration, and the backward, regressive ideas that drive them. What person who cares about economic and social justice and excellent educational and health systems for all, and believes that human worth is not determined by wallet size or skin color, would want to join the world of Trump, McConnell and their ilk? They are part of the problem.
The quest for statehood can’t end on Friday but must continue into House and Senate races that will determine whether the House remains blue and red is bleached out of the Senate. The ample resources of D.C. residents — both human and material — should be devoted to races most likely to elect or reelect women and men who believe residents of the District deserve the right to full participation in American democracy.
After Friday, that’s the path to follow.