Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) advocates D.C. statehood at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington on Jan. 2. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

The Jan. 18 letter “Look to the past before granting D.C. statehood a future” correctly noted that the framers of the Constitution gave Congress authority over the nation’s capital to protect the security of the seat of the government and not leave that responsibility in the hands of whatever state in which the capital might be located. But this does not mean “history has a lot to tell us about why the District maybe shouldn’t be a state.”

The pending D.C. statehood bill would create a state only of the portion of the District that is not part of the seat of the federal government; the part of the District that is the seat of the government would remain subject to the control of Congress consistent with the f ramers’ intent.

Nothing in the Constitution suggests that this part of the District shouldn’t become a state. In fact, further historical evidence suggests it could. In 1846, Congress determined that the portion of the original District of Columbia that came from Virginia could be safely returned to Virginia without compromising Congress’s ability to protect the security of the seat of the federal government.

What was true in 1846 is still true today: Portions of the original District of Columbia that are not part of the seat of the federal government can safely and appropriately be removed from congressional control and become a state.

Walter Smith, Washington

The writer is executive director of DC Appleseed.