House Democrats Will Vote to Make Washington D.C. a State – and Rename the District of Columbia the Douglass Commonwealth
Nikki Schwab, Daily Mail, June 25, 2020
House Democrats are poised to approve Washington, D.C., becoming the nation’s 51st state in a historic vote scheduled for Friday.
Washington the ‘District of Columbia’ would be no longer, the bill’s language says, as the new state would be referred to as ‘Washington, Douglass Commonwealth’ – swapping out Italian explorer Christopher Columbus for Maryland-born abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
‘And what an appropriate name: George Washington and Frederick Douglass, joined together in support of citizenship, what an appropriate name it seems to me for the capital of America,’ remarked Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House’s No. 2 Democrat who represents nearby Maryland. ‘To honor two of its citizens: one white, one black, both committed to the union and committed to citizenship.’
‘Frederick Douglas was one of the great spokespersons for “Black Lives Matter,”‘ Hoyer added.
Douglas was also chosen because he was a Marylander, as Washington was a Virginian. Those two states originally gave up the land to create the District, though Virginia took its portion back.
Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city’s non-voting member of Congress and Mayor Muriel Bowers, among others, gathered on Capitol Hill Thursday to preview the vote.
The bill is expected to pass the majority-Democrat House, though go nowhere in the Republican-led Senate this cycle.
Holmes Norton signaled she was OK with that because Senate control looked ripe for the picking, as new polling data showed Republican candidates struggling in several key states moving toward the 2020 election.
‘Speaking even more loudly are what the polls tell us about the president of the United States,’ Holmes Norton said at the presser Thursday. ‘The reason he’s going around spreading coronavirus – I’ve never seen such irresponsibility on the part of even an ordinary citizen, much less an elected official – is that his poll numbers are so low that his presidency is so threatened.’
If Trump lost the White House there would be no veto threat as presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden tweeted Thursday that ‘DC should be a state. Pass it on.’
Republicans have been averse to giving the city of 706,000 Americans statehood because it would mean giving Holmes Norton, a Democrat, a vote and then there would be two new senators.
In 2016, about 91 per cent of D.C.’s voters selected Democrat Hillary Clinton for president, while just 4 per cent chose President Trump.
With the current demographic makeup of the city, there’d be practically no chance for a Republican senator to be elected from the new Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.
The District currently has two Democratic ‘shadow’ senators – Paul Strauss and Mike Brown. The city also has a ‘shadow’ representative, which is a different role than that of Holmes Norton, who’s referred to as a ‘non-voting delegate.’
The Democrats’ bill would also move to swiftly repeal the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution, which gives D.C. its Electoral College votes.
The D.C. statehood issue has been made more prominent by Trump’s recent battle with the city’s Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Trump suggested Bowser’s mismanagement of the city created the chaos in front of LaFayette square on the heels of the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man, by a white police officer.
Dealing with the mass protests in D.C. has become a fraught tug-of-war between the federal and local government – with Trump ordering outside forces in.
And the federal government has more power to overrule the will of city officials because of the District’s unique status.
Bowser made that point at a press conference in mid-June explaining that with state-hood D.C. could refuse National Guard members from other states coming into the city without local official’s consent.