President Barack Obama casually endorsed the call for Washington D.C. to be considered a state, complete with two new Democratic senators in the U.S. Senate.
“I’m in D.C., so I’m for it,” he said, after an audience member asked him about the idea during a town hall meeting July 21.
“There has been a long movement to get D.C. statehood, and I’ve been for it for quite some time,” he said.
“Folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else,” he said.
“It’s not as if Washington, D.C. is not big enough compared to other states,” he said.
Vermont and Wyoming have populations smaller that D.C.’s population. Six other states have populations that are less than twice D.C.’s population of roughly 650,000.
D.C. is a state because the authors of the Constitution wanted to house the federal government in its own mini-jurisdiction. That decision came in 1787 after the governor of Pennsylvania had refused in 1783 to disperse rioters in Philadelphia, who were threatening the Congress while it was temporarily based in Philadelphia.
To make D.C. into a state, two-thirds of the House and Senate would need to approve a matching constitutional amendment, or two-thirds of the state legislatures could call for a constitutional convention. That’s very unlikely.
“The politics of it end up being difficult to get it through Congress,” Obama said.
“But I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” he added.