- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2020

With the African American Civil War Museum as a backdrop, the District’s top elected officials on Thursday promoted progress in their campaign to make the city the 51st state.

“We want to let the Congress know: We are not begging. We are not beggars. We demand statehood for Washington D.C.,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said during a press conference with D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress.

The Democratic trio were joined by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat and chairwoman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which oversees all D.C.-related matters.

Ms. Maloney’s committee will mark up H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, on Feb. 11 and then send it to the House floor. This is the first time since 1993 that a congressional committee has marked up D.C. statehood legislation.

“It is not good enough to be a citizen of the United States, which we are, when we are not full citizens with all the rights and privileges,” Mr. Mendelson said.

He noted that the D.C. City Council cannot amend rules on jury service or public-private partnerships because the District isn’t a state and is beholden to Congress.

This week, House Republicans sent a letter to Mrs. Maloney requesting that she invite former Council member Jack Evans to testify about his ethical transgressions as a part of the review of H.R. 51.

Mrs. Maloney said the committee has invited Mr. Evans several times and it was the responsibility of the Republicans to ensure he showed up, which he did not. She added that she is waiting for the results of the inspector general’s investigation into Metro before considering inviting Mr. Evans again.

Mr. Evans resigned from the council this month after his fellow lawmakers had moved to expel him over ethical violations detailed in an investigative report last year. He did not seek to retain the chairmanship of the Metro Board last year after a transit agency investigation found he had violated ethical standards several times. City officials did not reappoint him to the board.

Feb. 11 was chosen for the mark up for its symbolism: Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, for whom the new state would be named, and Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves of the District before the Emancipation Proclamation, both were born in that month.

“That’s one occasion I guess when being under federal jurisdiction worked in our favor,” Mrs. Norton said. “I am particularly grateful because my own great grandfather was a runaway slave in the District of Columbia at the time.”

She drew a connection between the 200,000 black people who fought in the Civil War, 75% of whom were enslaved, and the 30,000 veterans who now live in the District who don’t have representation in Congress.

“I truly believe that a commitment to democracy should transcend party affiliation,” Mrs. Maloney said, calling statehood a bipartisan issue. “Let me give you one example: When Vice President Mike Pence was a member of Congress, he made this very eloquent statement that I agree with completely.”

She then read a quote attributed to Mr. Pence from 2007, when he called the District’s lack of the representation in Congress a “historic wrong” and said it was “inconceivable” that the Founders would have accepted the “denial of representation.”

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