Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser took her dreams of statehood to the Republican National Convention Tuesday, trekking throughout the convention hall arguing it’s a bipartisan fight.
Bowser surprised many by bringing the cause to the RNC and appearing at the convention, after the party included language opposed to statehood in their platform Monday. If the District became the 51st state Democrats would likely gain two extra seats in the Senate, which party leaders and Congressional Republicans simply will not allow, reports The Washington Post.
Bowser secured a meeting with the host committee of the convention to discuss statehood and passed out bags of red, white and blue M&Ms reading, “Make America Great, ADD the 51st State.”
“Our job is to spread the message and make the point that this is not a partisan issue but something that is just essential to our democracy,” Bowser told The Washington Post. “We’ll be all over Cleveland.”
In the spirit of bipartisanship Bowser even stopped to chat with Republican Representative Mark Meadows, one of the fiercest critics of D.C. home rule and statehood. Meadows threatened D.C. Council members in May, saying they could face criminal liability over attempts to become more independent of Congress. (RELATED: DC Council Powers Toward Statehood, Frustrated Voters Left Behind)
— MurielBowser (@MurielBowser) July 19, 2016
The D.C. Council voted unanimously to approve a referendum July 12 to put the question of statehood to District voters in November. Bowser presented the referendum to the Council in an effort to turn the heat up on Congress to hold a vote on the contentious issue. Even if residents pass the referendum in November, Congress will still have to hold a vote, which is unlikely given Republican opposition to statehood.
Longtime statehood advocates are extremely critical of the current process and argue the voice of the people has been silenced. Despite holding a “constitutional convention” in June, residents criticized its structure and transparency. There were no elected delegates representing community interests, and at the end of the day, the New Columbia Statehood Commission had final say on what the document included. Residents had no real power to make their requests binding.
The constitution would establish a 21 seat state legislature, a change from the original draft that would have simply elevated the 13 seat D.C. Council to the state’s legislative body. Residents will be voting to approve this draft, however the Council declined to take a final vote on the language in the draft and said they will only vote on it if the ballot referendum passes in November.
After a formal request from Bowser in June, the Democratic National Committee placed statehood on their draft platform for the convention.
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