The GOP Really, Really Doesn’t Want Washington, DC, to Be a State

Really, really, *really.*

In response to the House passing HR 51, which would make DC the country's 51st state, Sen. Susan Collins is one of several Republicans to suggest DC become part of Maryland instead. Pool/Getty

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Late last month, the House passed a bill that would make Washington, DC, the country’s 51st state. With the bill set to be considered in the Senate, it’s the closest DC has ever been to achieving statehood. And Republicans aren’t thrilled.

While proponents argue the bill would ensure that the 712,000 Americans who live in the nation’s capital are fairly represented in Congress, critics say that adding DC as a state is unconstitutional or that it’s simply a Democratic “power grab.” (Republicans have tried out other, more bizarre arguments against DC statehood, including that it doesn’t have an airport or a landfill, my colleague Matt Cohen reports.) 

Additionally, Republicans including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are pushing a solution that nobody seems to want: Making DC part of Maryland.

“Washington, DC, is a city. It’s not a state,” Collins said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “There is a way to ensure that the residents of DC have voting representation in Congress and that is for DC to become part of Maryland, just as parts of DC became parts of Virginia many years ago.”

Similarly, last month, Romney told reporters, “If there were a desire to provide greater representation for the people of DC, combining DC with Maryland, from which the land was originally taken, would make more sense” than trying to “pack the Senate.”

Shortly after the House passed its bill in April, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) introduced another bill to combine the state and district, saying at the time, “If the Democrats want DC statehood, make it part of Maryland.”

While Americans as a whole aren’t overly keen on DC statehood—55 percent oppose it, a recent survey found—those representing the district are in favor. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, for instance, has repeatedly championed statehood for her city, and rejected the suggestion of DC becoming part of another state. “DC voters have already said loud and clear that we do not want retrocession, we want statehood,” she said in a speech in 2019.

She also argued that the “real reason” against DC statehood was that DC is “too brown and too democratic.” She added, “Former Gov. John Kasich admitted some of this during his presidential bid when he said, ‘What it really gets down to, if you want to be honest, is because [Republicans] know that’s just more votes in the Democratic party.'” Years later, Kasich’s words ring all too true.

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