Monday, January 18, 2021

Republican Controlled Senate Snubs Bill to Make DC the 51st State.

July 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Money, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( As an avid teacher of History/Economics and a freelance journalist; I want to take my readers and students back to an incident that may have been veiled because of the tragic death of George Floyd and the aftermath which set off a chain reaction regarding racial disparities across the globe.

On Friday, June 26th the US Democratic-controlled House approved a bill to make Washington D.C. a state. Their reason was that Congress had the constitutional authority and moral obligation to pass the bill.

The bill ensured the city’s 700,000 residents full voting rights and freedom from taxation by representation. It would also give D.C. two more senators and allow its only House representative to become a voting member.

The bill was adopted with a 232-180 vote influenced mainly by party interest, making it the first time a chamber of Congress passed D.C statehood legislation. Minnesota Rep., Collin Peterson, was the only Democrat who opposed the bill just like the Republicans did.

The bill is likely to face stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled senate.

The Districts non-voting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who sponsored the bill, said it was based upon facts and is fully backed by the Constitution.

She bolstered her claims by saying that population-wise, the would-be state ranks amongst seven others with a population less than one million, which is still higher than Wyoming and Vermont. Furthermore, its annual budget of $15.5 billion is above 12 other states as well as Its triple-A bond, which is higher than 35 other states.

“This is about power. Make no mistake about it,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. The bill would “fundamentally alter what D.C is,” he added.

Norton, who has diplomatically represented D.C since 1991, said the bill was personal for her and thousands of deprived city residents. She reiterated:

“My great-grandfather, who walked away from slavery in Virginia, got as far as the District of Columbia — got to freedom, but not to equality, and so what I think of this bill, at least for my family: I dedicate it to my great-grandfather, Richard Holmes.”

“Congress has two choices, it can continue to exercise undemocratic, autocratic authority over the 705,000 American citizens, treating them, in the words of Frederick Douglass, as ‘aliens, not citizens, but subjects.’ Alternatively, Congress can live up to our nation’s promise and ideals, end taxation without representation and pass the statehood bill.” She added.

The bill reduced the federal capital to a tourist-friendly region consisting of the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and other federal buildings along the National Mall. Simultaneously, the remaining parts of the city will be named the Washington, Douglass Commonwealth after abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass.

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington cited Douglass as she applauded the “historic vote” bringing D.C. closer to becoming the 51st state.

“More than 160 years ago, Washingtonian Frederick Douglass told us: Power concedes nothing without a demand, ? Bowser said. “As Washingtonians and as taxpaying American citizens, we are demanding what is owed to us — the rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. It is past time to fix this injustice.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., mystified and tortured the bill before the House voted on it. In his Senate speech, he said Washington D.C was a city with little or nothing to offer other than lobbyists and federal workers. Continuing he said:

“Yes, Wyoming is smaller than Washington by population, but it has three times as many workers in mining, logging, and construction, and ten times as many workers in manufacturing,” Cotton continued, “In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working-class state.”

Cotton further condemned Democrats for pushing the D.C. statehood bill while “mob violence” continued in the streets. This response came in reaction to the death of George Floyd. He also said recent protests near the White House required force by federal law enforcement under federal control.

“Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe if she were given the powers of a governor? Would you trust Marion Barry?” Cotton added further, referring to the incumbent and former mayors, both black and both generally admired by their respective constituents.

Cotton’s remarks created a social media outrage, with many labeling his comments as racist. D.C. has a large African-American populace and was once referred to as “Chocolate City D.C.” Although, by virtue of its population; the District of Columbia is no longer obliged to the title, “Chocolate City.”

In fact, the District of Columbia now joins New Mexico, California and Texas as states without any one racial group forming a majority of the population. (Of course, unlike those three, Washington D. C. doesn’t have a vote in Congress. In support of the bill, Democrats emphasized its relevance citing the protest against racial injustice in D.C. and other parts of the nation; to that extent, the world.

Democratic leaders scheduled the vote after Trump’s highly criticized photo-op in Lafayette Square, which involved the use of federal officers to remove protesters near the White House.

“There should not be troops from other states in Washington, D.C.,” said Bowser. “There should not be federal forces advancing against Americans. There very definitely should not be soldiers stationed around our city waiting for the go-to attack Americans in a local policing matter.”

President Trump said last month, “D.C. will never be a state” because it would bring about two Democratic senators. “No, thank you. That will never happen,” he said.

However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., noted that D.C. inhabitants’ rights should go beyond political calculations. He added:

“We are the only free country in the world, from all our research that does not have a voting member of their parliament in their country. We call our parliament Congress.”

Recent activities in the capital have brought national attention and scrutiny. Earlier this year, when Congress passed the CARES Act stimulus package, D.C. was classified as a territory and not a state – a distinction that cost Washington D. C. over $700 million in federal funding.

Every District law is subjected to review by a congressional committee, who can alter them or veto them by attaching riders to federal appropriation bills.

During GOP control of Congress, conservatives have often tried to cut down some of the city’s liberal initiatives such as abortions under its Medical program and needles exchanges for drug users.

As a teacher I must tell the truth in order to remain viable as an effective communicator of the facts! It is time for Washington D.C. to be empowered with statehood and time for the Tom Cotton’s and Louie Gohmert’s to return to their rightful place on the wrong side of history. In these matters this writer will continue to emphasize this point upon returning to instruction in my college classroom as a teacher in the fall; whether through the process of e-learning, in person or a hybrid of both.

Staff Writer; Stanley G. Buford

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