51st StateCommunityDC Statehood

Bowser to Call for D.C. Statehood in Capitol Hill Testimony

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser prepared on Tuesday to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs at a hearing regarding the Washington, D.C. Admission Act.

In an excerpt of her testimony, Bowser said her sentiments would echo many of the arguments she made before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in March and in September 2019, as well as many of the same arguments made by her predecessor, Vincent Gray, in 2014.

“Then, as now, the District’s call for full democracy has been drowned out by arguments that ignore the fact that the second-class status of District residents is clearly an anomaly of the U.S. Constitution, not a feature of it,” Bowser’s prepared testimony says. “Over the decades, arguments against D.C. statehood have ranged from preposterous assertions to inaccurate legal claims. Just to cite a couple: in 2019, we were asked about what would happen to the parking spots for congressional staff if the District becomes a state. We were at a loss to see the correlation between full democracy for 700,000 American citizens and a few parking spaces.

“This past March, I was confronted with concerns that the District could not be a state because it does not have a car dealership — even though it does,” Bowser’s prepared remarks state. “Statements like these not only discount the civil rights of District residents, they also demonstrate a true lack of understanding of the rapidly growing and thriving businesses, communities, and culture that surround the small Federal presence. It is for those neighborhoods, Michigan Park, Congress Park and Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights and Hillcrest among them — that make up 99% of the District — and the people who live in them and who come to D.C. for school, government service, or other work that I appear today to petition for full equality.

Bowser will argue that there is “no legal or constitutional barrier” to D.C. statehood.

“Our fate is not in the hands of the Founding Fathers; they left this decision for later generations,” the mayor’s testimony says. “It is not in the hands of the courts either. The courts have been clear that this is a political issue, and by its very nature, is within the domain of Congress. It is not in the hands of the U.S. House of Representatives, as they have passed the bill twice. And it is not in the hands of the President of the United States, as he has pledged to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk. The 700,000 residents that I represent are looking to the 100 members of this Senate for immediate action to rectify this long-standing injustice.”

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