- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A House committee on Tuesday approved for the first time in 27 years legislation that would make the District the 51st state, following House Republicans’ constitutional arguments against the bill.

“There are serious constitutional as well as policy problems with this proposal,” Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said in opening remarks at the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. “The Founders intentionally crafted the Constitution so the seat of the federal government would purposefully and specifically not — not — be within any state.”

Republicans introduced more than a dozen amendments with mandates for the future state’s constitution, saying the changes would make H.R. 5803 — the Washington, D.C. Admission Act — “less bad.”

For example, Rep. Carol Miller, West Virginia Republican, offered an amendment that would require the state constitution to include a provision for punishing doctors who fail to provide medical care to an infant that is born after a failed abortion.

Other GOP proposals call for prohibiting laws that ban owning or carrying a firearm, barring the D.C. government from not complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and creating a right-to-work statute. None of the amendments passed in the Democrat-controlled committee.

“This train of right-wing amendments shows precisely why the people of Washington need to be admitted to the Union,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, Maryland Democrat, who defended the constitutional merits of D.C. statehood. “[More than] 700,000 Americans do not want to get run over any longer by anti-choice, anti-immigration, anti-gun safety, union-busting agendas from other parts of the country.”

Mr. Raskin noted that all states but the original 13 were admitted without a constitutional amendment and that the “equal footing” doctrine precludes Republicans from conditioning statehood with policy riders.

Mr. Jordan called Mr. Raskin “Mr. Fancy Law Professor.”

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, introduced H.R. 5803, which has 223 co-sponsors in the House. The bill would carve out the National Mall, the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the White House and other federal buildings for a federal enclave. The rest of the land within current D.C. boundaries would become the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.

“This boundary was drawn as a jab at Donald Trump but also in recognition of his success at converting that building into a revenue generating, not a revenue depleting, but a revenue generating enterprise and they want it in the new state,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican.

Mr. Massie criticized D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson’s comments during a September hearing on the bill, where he said D.C. officials want the Trump International Hotel in the new state because it would generate tax revenue.

“What the District of Columbia is doing is trying to be a part of the American experience and try to make money as a state,” said Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat. “The Trump Hotel is a hotel, and so they are able to be capitalist, which I would expect my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would appreciate.”

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, pledged at a press conference before the markup hearing to bring H.R. 5803 for a vote on the House floor and said he hopes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, will do the same in his chamber. Companion legislation to H.R. 5803 has yet to be discussed in the Senate.

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