‘Why should the District of Columbia be granted statehood when it can’t even perform basic governmental duties like protecting its residents against criminals?’ Scalise asked in an anti-statehood memo his office put out, first obtained by Forbes.
The document, which also focuses on D.C.’s budget and history of crooked officials, was revealed on the eve of the second vote in the House of Representatives on statehood in less than a year.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise sent out a memo arguing against D.C. statehood – due to the city’s crime, budget and history of crooks – on the eve of the House’s D.C. statehood vote, a second in under a year
A Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police car sits outside an apartment building in the Carver-Langston neighborhood in Northeast D.C. last May, as an uptick in violence rattled the neighborhood with crime increasing by 40 per cent compared to 2019 figures
Republicans have made a number of arguments against residents of D.C. (pictured: the city’s Chinatown neighborhood) getting representation in Congress, including that the city doesn’t have any mines or a landfill and wrongly claiming there are no car dealerships
Crime is up in the District, though that’s a national trend, which could be impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The crime rate is much lower than it was in the 1990s.
Scalise also used a ’90s figure, the late Mayor Marion Barry, as evidence of D.C. government mismanagement and corruption.
Things have gotten much better in recent years. The city government had a half a billion dollar surplus in fiscal year 2020, a New York Magazine story on Scalise’s comments pointed out, calling his reasoning ‘ignorant’ and ‘racist.’
In September, the House voted 232-180 approving D.C. statehood, sending the bill to the U.S. Senate where it died in the last Congress.
Not a single House Republican voted in favor of the legislation.
A similar dynamic is expected to play out Thursday when H.R. 51 – which would make D.C. the 51st state – gets a fresh House vote in this Congress.
While it’s expected to pass the House, without filibuster reform the legislation again appears dead upon arrival in the Senate.
Republicans have come up with a laundry list of reasons for why a jurisdiction of more than 700,000 people – a higher population than Wyoming and Vermont – deserves zero respresentation in Congress.
Last month during a House Oversight Hearing on the legislation, GOP lawmakers suggested D.C. shouldn’t be a state because it doesn’t have a landfill, mines or a car dealership.
‘D.C. would be the only state, the only state, without an airport, without a car dealership, without a capital city, without a landfill, without even a name on its own, and we could go on and on and on,’ argued Rep. Jody Hice, a Georgia Republican.
There are several car dealerships in D.C.
Rep. Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin Republican, asked D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser about the District’s manufacturing, agriculture, mining and drilling, arguing ‘those are things that I think every state has to some degree.’
‘We do not have any mines, congressman,’ Bowser replied.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser testified before a House Oversight Committee hearing in March about making the District a state. Republicans peppered the mayor with questions and pointed out the city doesn’t have a landfill, mines or a car dealership, although it has several
Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican and the committee’s ranking member, argued that D.C. statewood was a ‘key part of the radical leftist agenda to reshape America, along with the Green New Deal, defunding the police and packing the U.S. Supreme Court.
Comer also called the bill ‘flatly unconstitutional.’
Bowser said anti-statehood arguments have usually come as ‘thinly veiled attacks on our political leandings and, quite frankly, on our diversity and history of black political power.’
She urged lawmakers to ‘move beyond the tired, non-factual and frankly anti-democratic rhetoric and extend full democracy to the residents of the District of Columbia.’
She also argued that the disenfranchisement has persisted because of the ‘racist efforts to subvert a growing and thriving black city,’ pointing to the Congressional record where white representatives refererred to it as the ‘negro problem.’
If D.C. was given statehood, the current political demographics of the city would almost certainly mean that two Democratic senators would be added to the body as well as a Democratic House member.