No satisfaction in New Hampshire on D.C. statehood

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City officials drew parallels between the Granite State’s “Live Free or Die” motto and focus on democracy — 400 legislators serve a state of only 1.3 million people — into support for the District’s fight against “taxation without representation” in Congress.

“It seems to me one of the legacies I can leave to those who will come behind me is the opportunity to live with greater freedom than we live with now,” Mr. Gray said. “That translates to me into ‘Live Free or Die.’”

‘A positive step’

The delegation set out for New England before dawn, boarding a 7:15 a.m. flight out of Baltimore Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport. They cruised at 35,000 feet from the 60-degree January temperatures in Maryland to the 30-degree coolness and slush of snow and rain in Manchester, N.H. From there, they boarded vans for the quick jaunt to the capital, Concord.

D.C. lawmakers may have found their surroundings familiar. Many of them joined former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in 2008 to tout a New Hampshire resolution that supported D.C. voting rights in Congress. A committee reported favorably on the resolution, but it came to the floor on a snowy day and failed to get the two-thirds vote required by state law.

Its sponsor, Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, is a Democrat who has known Mr. Catania for many years as members of the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices. She upped the ante this year with the D.C. statehood resolution.

On the morning after its defeat, Ms. Rosenwald said an amendment that supported D.C. voting rights in Congress, yet not statehood, was drafted but not introduced from the dais on Friday. She felt the hearing was a positive step toward educating the nation on the District’s unique position, even if colleagues such as Mr. Baldasaro are not ready to add a star to the American flag.

“He just couldn’t get beyond the part of the Constitution he was quoting,” Ms. Rosenwald said, referring to the passage about the District serving as the seat of the federal government with no mention of its own autonomy. “Because he’s never seen any plan.”

Vice Chairman Lynne Blankenbeker, a Republican, expressed similar concerns and consulted her pocket-Constitution alongside the chairman, yet she was among the three members who voted not to kill the resolution.

“I thought it was a very respectful and good hearing,” Ms. Rosenwald said. “I was very appreciative of how much time the chairman devoted to it.”

Yet some questioned whether the D.C. delegation returned that respect. Mr. Gray and the council members left halfway through the marathon hearing to catch an earlier flight than planned, while members of D.C. Vote, former Deputy Mayor Herb Tillery and Sam McCoy, both veterans, private citizens and three young men who went on a hunger strike for D.C. democracy testified before the committee. Most of the city’s delegation — except for hunger strikers Adrian Parsons, Sam Jeweler and Joe Gray, who drove to New Hampshire — and D.C.-based reporters who made the trip had to leave for the airport before the final vote.

D.C. “Shadow” Sen. Michael D. Brown said he was disappointed that officials left on an earlier flight. If D.C. residents do not stand behind their own, “where does that leave us?” he said. The New Hampshire committee did not seem to mind, because the D.C. officials were up front about their need to leave at the appointed time.

Perceptions and misconceptions

Because Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution says members of Congress must be elected “by the People of the several States,” the 600,000 residents of the District, a federal territory, have no voting congressional representation.

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