“No Taxation Without Representation.” That is the rallying cry behind the decades-long push to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state of the union. It’s a catchy phrase, but the truth of the matter is that our founding fathers never intended for D.C. to become a state, and the residents of D.C. forced to live in the district.
In fact, several solutions to address D.C. residents’ issue of taxation without representation have been introduced and debated by the Congress, including legislation to exempt residents from taxation or to permit residents to vote in Maryland. But Democrats have made it clear that they are not interested in constitutionally aligned or bipartisan alternatives because they don’t come bundled with two ultra-liberal U.S. senators.
Instead, Democrats are laser focused on passing H.R. 51, a bill to make D.C. statehood a reality by way of an unconstitutional power grab that does nothing more than expand the Democrats’ grip on Washington. I use the descriptor “unconstitutional” because H.R. 51, if enacted, would be at odds with the U.S. Constitution.
That’s because adding D.C. as a new state requires the adoption of a constitutional amendment to repeal the 23rd amendment that grants residents of the federal district three electoral college votes in presidential elections. Repeal of the 23rd amendment is crucial as the boundaries of the federal district would shrink drastically under H.R. 51, so much so that the federal district would only comprise the U.S. Capitol Building, the Federal buildings along the National Mall, and the White House.
As a result of the boundary envisioned by H.R. 51, the only residents of the new federal district would be the president and their family. And absent repeal of the 23rd Amendment, the federal district would be granted three electors in the presidential race, which means the president and their family would be allowed to send three electors — most assuredly votes in favor of the sitting President’s party! Article II of the Constitution does not allow for the president to send electors to vote in a presidential race; that makes H.R. 51 unconstitutional!
Moreover, enactment of H.R. 51 would mean two more seats in the U.S. Senate, a change that would certainly benefit Democrats as D.C. residents have overwhelmingly backed Democratic candidates in every presidential election since 1964 – the first year district residents could vote in federal elections following ratification of the 23rd Amendment.
Given that Democrats currently control the Congress and the White House, D.C. statehood is closer to becoming a reality than ever before in history. H.R. 51 passed the House by a vote of 216 to 208 and could very likely pass the Senate if Leader Chuck Schumer moves to do away with the Senate’s filibuster rule – the rule that requires a 60-vote threshold for passage of any legislation rather than a simple majority of votes.
To protect the Senate’s bipartisan traditions, I offered an amendment during committee mark-up to H.R. 51 that would have required the bill to pass the Senate by a 60-vote threshold, but Democrats on the House Oversight Committee chose to put bipartisanship aside when they objected to my amendment.
At its core, H.R. 51 is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing dressed up by progressives to gain more power in Washington and to stack the electoral playing field in their favor for years to come. Should the filibuster be defeated and Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and President Biden all agree to H.R. 51 and admit D.C. as the 51st state, make no mistake that their two new Democratic Senators will help them to abolish all voter identification requirements, pack the courts and confiscate guns from law abiding citizens.
For all the above reasons I voted against H.R. 51 when it came through the House Oversight Committee last week, and I would have voted against it again on the floor today had I been present. While my family and I continue to grieve the loss of my mother, I remain firm in my opposition to H.R. 51, and I continue to urge my Senate colleagues to follow suit and back the filibuster rule.
Andrew Clyde represents Georgia’s 9th district in the House of Representatives.