Supporters of D.C. statehood demonstrate for their cause. (WI file photo)
Supporters of D.C. statehood demonstrate for their cause. (WI file photo)

With the push for D.C. statehood as strong as it has ever been, Republican lawmakers are doing what they have become accustomed to when legislation could enfranchise voters — particularly those of color.

They push back.

Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota has introduced a bill to repeal the 23rd Amendment, a move that would effectively end the hope for D.C. statehood.

Nine other Republicans have joined Johnson in his effort, which would prohibit District residents from voting for president.

With GOP-led statehouses in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and other places advancing voter restriction laws, Johnson’s bill targets Washington, D.C.

He is pushing for the District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act, which would leave just federal buildings and the National Mall as the only remaining structures in D.C. proper.

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Maryland would claim D.C. neighborhoods as its own, and the District could no longer vote for presidential electors.

“It removes the need for D.C. statehood while also providing representation to individuals living in the District by merging the suburbs with Maryland,” Johnson remarked in a news release.

The congressman’s push ignores the rights and will of the more than 712,000 D.C. residents — 49 percent of whom are Black — who pay more federal taxes per capita than any state but still has no Senate representation.

It attempts to usurp the gallant decades-long effort led by nonvoting Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) for statehood. With a Democrat in the White House, the party controlling the House, and the Senate’s slimmest of majorities, Johnson’s bill stands little chance of passing.

However, unless Democrats agree to abolish the filibuster, statehood also stands almost no chance of getting through the Senate.

This week, the House Oversight and Reform Committee is scheduled to hear presentations on D.C. statehood. In 2020, the committee passed and sent Norton’s statehood bill to the House floor for the first time in nearly 30 years.

With Republicans then holding the majority in the Senate, the bill stalled.

Norton reintroduced the bill earlier this year at the beginning of the 117th Congress, and she now has well over 200 co-sponsors.

President Joe Biden has said he supports D.C. statehood.

“He believes [the residents of D.C.] deserve representation,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said about the president.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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