- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2019



They are happy and making merry like it’s Christmas — “they” referring to people who support making the District of Columbia the 51st state.

They’re happy because the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has scheduled a hearing for July 24, when Americans everywhere and in the throes of planning for their summer fun and back-to-school routines — not beating a drum for D.C. statehood, or Donald Trump, for that matter.

Democrats are the happiest.

Their fight for statehood has always been a roller-coaster ride, but not on coasters made of steel. The statehood efforts are wild rides like those of old-school, wooden roller coasters.

First, the U.S. Constitution mandates specific oversight regarding the nation’s capital, or federal district, as it is called. Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, Congress has the power “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such Dis-trict … [as] the seat of the government of the United States …”

As you know, 50 states have been admitted to the Union over a lengthy stretch of U.S. history. (The last two were Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.)

Ratified in 1961 during the Kennedy administration, the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution gave registered D.C. voters the right to vote for representatives to the Electoral College for the election of the president and the vice president. Statehood hopes rode high.

Then in 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law the D.C. Delegate Act, which gave the District one non-voting representative in Congress. The first delegate, Walter Fauntroy, got the House to approve a proposal to amend the Constitution for full-on statehood. That proposal expired in 1985 with only 22 of the needed 38 state nods. Statehood hopes rode high but eventually took a deep winding dip.

Next came the federal D.C. Home Rule Act of 1973, which the Congress and the Nixon White House agreed to. That move gave residents of the federal District the right to elect a mayor and a 13-member municipal legislative council. Statehood hopes rode high once more.

Since home rule, each mayor has been, as they say, all in for statehood — so much that they still commit their political selves to electing “shadow” senators and “shadow” representatives who can mouth the democratic rhetoric but have absolutely no legal powers over anything.

Now, hopes are on a new path, sort of. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat and friend of D.C., has promised that as chairman of the House Oversight Committee he will hold a hearing on July 24. If vacationing Americans aren’t C-SPAN junkies, though, they likely will miss it.

To add interest to the new statehood push, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, is now on board. Oh joy.

This after the statehood booster club held a press conference where they said they would be tying this new push into the 2020 early primary states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The boosters said they would employ the usual suspects, including grassroots efforts and digital media.

D.C. statehood supporters or not, Democrats love the idea because it can help the get-out-the-vote cause in 2020.

Where the money will come from and to whom it will be given is unknown — two big unknowns. The boosters didn’t say. That means the lobbyists are still in the closet and the “donors” will be, too.

After all, we don’t need another “collusion,” do we?

A full-throttle effort to educate Americans about what our Constitution says is a good thing. Too many born-and-raised Americans don’t know D.C. is not a state — so educate them. Please educate them.

Educate them to the fact that it takes registered voters in at least 38 states to get D.C. off the roller coaster and on the path to statehood before Congress.

Those are the votes that count.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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