- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A resolution by the New Hampshire legislature to recognize the District as the 51st state reaches the House floor Wednesday, a last-ditch hope for D.C. officials who looked to Granite State lawmakers to jump-start their quest for statehood.

A contingent of District lawmakers traveled to New Hampshire in late January hoping a get a House committee to pass the Democrat-sponsored resolution, only to be dealt an embarrassing blow when Republican members opposed to it prevailed in an 8-3 vote.

The resolution appears unlikely to pass the full House considering the chamber is composed largely of Republicans, who historically have opposed the D.C. statehood effort on constitutional grounds.

Still, D.C. officials say the effort is about educating Americans about the District’s unique status and that they will continue such efforts in other states.

Companion bills sponsored by a pair of Democrats in the Florida legislature were referred to committees last month.

A spokesman for D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown, at-large independent, said city lawmakers hope one of the committees soon takes up the measure.

In addition, Mr. Brown’s office is hoping for a D.C. statehood resolution out of Tennessee and has engaged in “friendly conversations” with Washington state and Maryland.

Because lawmakers in Annapolis rarely introduce resolutions, Mr. Brown’s office drafted a letter in support of D.C. statehood for House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, to consider.

“Today we reaffirm that Maryland is still committed to the principles that make our country great and to make clear that the work of making democracy universal to all Americans is still incomplete,” states the letter, which also reiterates the District’s contributions in federal taxes and foreign wars.

D.C. officials appeared to gain traction with those lines of argument in New Hampshire.

Committee members even considered an amendment that recognizes the District’s right to representation in Congress — but not statehood — though it was never introduced.

“This is going to be a process of long-term education that the people of the District need to undertake,” said Cindy Rosenwald, the New Hampshire Democrat who sponsored the bill in the state House. “I think the real issue is representation, and statehood is a tactic — and maybe it’s the best tactic.”