Attempts to give the District voting rights made it to the House floor twice.
In 1978, a constitutional amendment that would have given the District representation in the House and the Senate was passed by Congress, but failed to be ratified by the required number of states. In 1993, a measure granting the District statehood was easily defeated in the House, by a 277-153 vote.
Most recently, a 2010 measure that would have granted the city voting rights in Congress was withdrawn after its supporters learned of Republican plans to introduce an amendment that would eviscerate the city’s gun laws. Since then, advocates have refocused their efforts on statehood.
Mr. Baldasaro said he was committed to sending the D.C. delegation home with an answer on their resolution. Testimony also entered into a contentious, yet civil, debate about the District’s reputation for violence.
Mr. Baldasaro said there were certain D.C. neighborhoods he would never take his children to when he passed through to Quantico, Va. The crime rate, he said, was an indication that the District is not doing enough to provide Second Amendment rights to his citizens.
Johnnie Scott Rice, a third-generation Washingtonian, launched into spirited defense of her city and its safety, pointedly accusing of Mr. Baldasaro of relying on old stereotypes.
“Like there’s no crime in New Hampshire? There’s no crime in Maryland? There’s no crime in Colorado?” Ms. Rice said, expanding on redevelopment throughout the city. “Southwest Washington would blow your mind if you actually came back and saw it.”
Mr. Baldasaro said he did not mean to offend anyone, but he did not back down from his assertion that neighborhoods in cities across America have a reputation for danger.
Nonetheless Mr. Brown, the shadow senator, and D.C. Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka were pleased with unqualified support from certain members. Outside the hearing room, they thanked representatives like Robert Theberge, a Democrat who had earlier said it “would be an honor” to be the first in line to support D.C. statehood.
“I think it’s long overdue,” Mr. Theberge said in an interview. “There are so many myths going around and misconceptions about what’s going on” in the District.
Rep. Bill Hatch, a Democrat who does not normally sit on the committee, offered the third vote in favor of the resolution.
Case for statehood
New Hampshire representatives are essentially volunteers, making $100 per year, yet they seriously vetted the legality and practicality of what the D.C. delegation proposed.
Council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat and a law professor at George Washington University, ably made the case for District statehood based on the legal timeline of land maneuvers in the District since the days of the Federalist Papers.View Entire Story
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Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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