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Gray wants statehood, not just voting rights

Under a still-hypothetical-Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), would the District abandon its push for voting rights in Congress and instead decide to go all-in to achieve statehood?

It sure sounded that way Wednesday night when Gray addressed a crowd of supporters at a fundraiser.

Speaking of the apparent demise on Capitol Hill of voting rights this year because of the fighting over the city's gun regulations, Gray didn't sound too optimistic about continuing the push for a vote in Congress separate from statehood.

"With all the energy we spent on getting a vote, why didn't we just commit that energy on being a state?" Gray asked to roaring applause. "The 51st state."

Gray's remarks coincide with chatter among D.C. Council members over the effectiveness of DC Vote, a coalition of organizations that has been fighting for voting rights but not heavily engaged in the broader - and much more difficult - quest for statehood.

At a council breakfast Tuesday morning, council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) questioned the government's relationship with DC Vote, saying she also thinks the city should be focused on statehood. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) nodded in agreement as Alexander spoke.

-- Tim Craig

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By Washington Post Editors  |  April 22, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray , Voting Rights  | Tags: D.C. statehood, District of Columbia Council, Vincent C. Gray, d.c. voting rights  
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I'm all for statehood-- as long as they still don't insist on calling it 'New Columbia'. I mean, we already have NC (North Carolina). Our Union is made up of states and commonwealths-- I see no reason why we can't remain the District of Columbia.

Posted by: Aimhigh2000 | April 22, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Because a vote has a chance in passing, whereas statehood will never happen.

Posted by: poopieface | April 22, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, the odds against statehood are huge. Doesn't anyone in DC government understand national politics? Are they expecting the rest of the country to just be nice all of a sudden? Its just naive and painful to watch all this righteous indignation. The NRA holds more cards than we do, face it folks. Life ain't pretty!

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | April 22, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for it, so long as the downtown area where the Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court are not part of the new state and remain part of the Constitutionally mandated Federal District of not more than 100 square miles. I see no reason why the remainder of DC cannot apply for statehood. Other states were admitted to the Union earlier in our history with far less population than DC has now.

I would suggest allowing for Maryland to retrocede DC first, seeing as DC was once part of Maryland. But if Maryland does not agree, than DC should form its own state.

I think the argument for a Federal District is a sound one, but I don't think the Federal District needs to be an entire city. Having far Upper NW or Brookland as part of the Federal District makes no difference in the operation of the Federal government. Federal agencies do not need to be headquartered in many are HQ'ed in MD and VA. The argument that some states should not have undue influence on the Federal government's operations doesn't really work anymore....can't really deny that Maryland and Virginia have more influence on the operation of the Federal government than Alaska...since the vast majority of government workers are residents of those 2 states, and the operation of the Federal government can be held up by the operaton of those two states....such as in February when DC was essentially functional long before government workers' homes in MD and VA were dug out from the blizzard. Since we as a country accept the fact that Maryland and Virginia play a large role in the operation of our government, I see no reason why another new state can't as well. If America is opposed to the idea of Maryland and Virginia having extra influence on the Federal government...well, we'd have to change the Constitution, as the suburbs extend far beyond the Constitutionally limited 100 square mile boundary of Federal control.

Posted by: thetan | April 22, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I'd actually rather have the same deal Puerto Rico has: no federal income tax. I'd prefer that over 2 senators and 1 member of Congress any day!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | April 22, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I live in and was born in DC, I don't know about DC being a state. Historically, there was a reason for the creation of DC separate from any state, and while times have changed (A LOT), I don't know if DC should be a state. Its not really a question of DC being able to govern itself if it were a state, as I'm pretty sure it would be. But I actually agree with the idea of having the house of the federal government existing indepedently of ANY State.

Of course I feel that DC the same number of votes as any state of similar size. But I don't know about it being an actual state.

Also just to through the idea out there, I'm actually for an idea of changing the Senate to a fixed number of Senators (say 21) who are elected on interstate boundaries. That is the country is split up into 21 regions, with each region containing an equal population, regardless of state boundaries. This way each state is representated proprotionally in the House, and the Senate is a legislative body that represents the country as a whole, and not their respective states.

Bing "Constitution 21" for what I am talking about.


Posted by: Avatoin | April 22, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

still one of the dumbest ideas ever.the whiners will keep trying,b ut even the most lib member of the hill gang will go along with it even if their messiah pushes for it.these fools cannot even manage to educate their children

Posted by: pofinpa | April 23, 2010 2:02 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Gray -

That idea (Plan A) died a long time ago. In 1985, the Constitutional Amendment died, and the last Congressional Bill in the House died in 1993.

A House seat was the fallback (Plan B) from that.

The only way to get the vote in the House (and the Senate, for that matter) would be Plan C - Columbia County, Maryland, and/or Columbia County, Virginia.

This sounds like a cynical political ploy to get to the left of Fenty on this issue.

Posted by: GHF_LRLTD | April 23, 2010 4:05 AM | Report abuse

I find it sad that DC can not seem to figure out that it serves and important purpose in NOT being a state. If you don't like it, move to a state.

Posted by: Nymous | April 23, 2010 4:14 AM | Report abuse

Just one question: How much is this going to end up costing me ?

Posted by: jralger | April 23, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

The council chair's position on statehood, I'm sure, has nothing to do with his campaign for mayor.

DC statehood should be an option for the citizens of DC and the 50 states to decide. It should not be solely left to Congress. My only concern about DC statehood is how we would tax ourselves to pay for all of the services for which the feds now pay (unlike in the 50 states or territories). For example, DC Superior Court, CSOSA, pretrial, and housing all of our prisoners. This runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars,if not a billion or more when you factor in retirement obligations. Where would we build a prison? Or would we pay another state to take our prisoners? Becoming a state means we have to take back those obligations unless the feds are willing to pony up the same agreements with all of the states. I just don't think we can raise taxes in DC that much more.

Posted by: rag91354 | April 23, 2010 6:48 AM | Report abuse

I would hope that Chairman Gray would focus on major issues facing this city:
crime,education,jobs and training for folks throughout the city. Especially, across the anacostia river. You sound like a version of former Chairman Sterling Tucker who lost to Councilmember Marion Barry in 1978. No more dog and pony shows regarding statehood or voting rights. Stay focused Chairman Gray.

Posted by: bill121 | April 23, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm a DC resident, and I completely oppose statehood and support retrocession to Maryland. I never believed the idea that DC people are somehow special enough to be so different from Marylanders. I certainly don't believe that we warrant our own senators or state government.

If DC is retroceded to Maryland, there will be not only representation in the House (as well as via Maryland's senators), but perhaps more coordinated planning.

Posted by: jakemd1 | April 23, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Just give the non-federal property in DC back to Maryland (where it came from) and call it Washington.

Posted by: wildfyre99 | April 23, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

There is one problem with the district wanting statehood or even voting rights. Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital.

In order to obtain this constitutionally, there would have to be an amendment to the Constitution which needs to be ratified by the states.

Posted by: LeeHinAlexandria | April 23, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

jakemd1 said: I'm a DC resident, and I completely oppose statehood and support retrocession to Maryland. I never believed the idea that DC people are somehow special enough to be so different from Marylanders. I certainly don't believe that we warrant our own senators or state government.

If DC is retroceded to Maryland, there will be not only representation in the House (as well as via Maryland's senators), but perhaps more coordinated planning."

I think this is a sensible idea. Thre is something like 67% of land in DC that will NEVER be taxable (fed. property, churches, schools)...that is a LOT and being part of MD might help that situation. Also, DC is really two cities...the one where people live and the one owned and operated by the fed. gov't. That will always be the case. (I was born in DC and live in MD forever, and don't believe the founding fathers or those who helped create DC ever intended for its citizens NOT to have representation in Congress.)

Posted by: DecafDrinker | April 23, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

The arguments against DC statehood here miss some key points. Among them:

DC's population, apx. 600,000, is similar to that of North Dakota. The Senators, etc. who come here and make all the news are not DC residents. Contrary to the myth that this is a transient city, outside of Capitol Hill, many people have actually lived here all their lives. Their parents grew up here. Their grandparents grew up here. This city has a history for people that is completely outside of national politics. The national politics in this city is conducted almost entirely by people from out of state.

Meanwhile, DC residents pay federal taxes. We pay money to a Federal Government in which we have no voting representation. Moreover, we cannot pass our own laws; they must be approved by Congress. I cannot tell you how jarring it is to have the "states' rights" Congressmen from the South veto our city's legislation. Surely, they would dislike if all their states' laws had to be signed off on by the Feds?

Essentially, we have 600,000 plus people who pay taxes and are totally disenfranchised. Surely this is not democracy.

Posted by: js3705a | April 23, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

It isn't democracy to have 700,000 people and no voting rights except for the President. But there's a snowball's chance in hell that the District will be made a state - it's not a territory, but a specially-created federal district.

All this everybody knows. Still people persist in solutions that are either half-baked (and extra-constitutional) or simply impossible (like statehood).

Why not keep the District as a congressional district, but remand us back into Maryland, where we were originally excised from? That way, as Maryland residents, we will have both two senators and a representative? I don't want a representative (much as I adore Ms. Norton) without two senators.

Or excuse us all from federal taxes and be honest about our special status.

Posted by: cbl55 | April 23, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Is Vincent Gray that stupid? Or is he just pandering to the silly activists?

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | April 23, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

,,Just give the non-federal property in DC back to Maryland (where it came from) and call it Washington.,,

Thank you. The land that Virginia donated was given back in 1847. It's time to abolish the Federal District once and for all.

Posted by: darrellcochran | April 23, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

O if it werent for that pesky old document called the US Constitution...

Posted by: indep2 | April 23, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Heck Vincy boy why not a whole new country? You and your council have trampled everything it means to be in America.

I guess Vincey and his cohorts on the DC Council think that honest law abiding black majority in DC is incapable of having the same second amendment rights as honest law abiding white majority in Virginia.
The part of the council that wants to deny God given rights to blacks comes from the same school of thought that the Chief of Police comes from; she thought that black people would voluntarily allow police to search their homes.

Slowly but surely this council will take away all the rights of black people; this council is no better than a plantation owner.

Posted by: civilrightist | April 23, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Fat Chance.

Posted by: transplant2 | April 23, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

wapo , give it up. NO STATEHOOD or additional crooks needed to support this welfare project. not that many votes at stake for the whiners.

Posted by: pofinpa | April 23, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

It's not gonna happen. Just give it up.

These pols are bitter because some junior congressman from Podunk can crook his finger and make DC dance to his tune (like, for instance, gun rights). But that's the hand DC was dealt. Without the Federal Givt., DC would be...Hyattsville? It wouldn't even be Richmond or Baltimore, that's for sure. Gotta take the bitter with the sweet.

Posted by: gbooksdc | April 23, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Washington, D.C. must become a state since that city is in the contigious United States. I would find it justifiable if there was a second Constitutional convention to make sure the District of Colubmia becomes the 51st state of the Untied States. Vincent. C. Gray did good by making a speech in facor of Washington, D.C. becoming a state. Although it sounds tough, that city deserves full representation in Congress like states.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | April 23, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Instead of DC statehood release the land back to Maryland, giving the people of DC representation that can vote and have a representative in Congress and take the downtown are (Capitol,White House, and other government buildings and create a new Federal Capital City of Washington. All sides win-representation for the civilian population,we keep the Capital of Washington, and no special election costing the government millions of dollars so the money can go to the residential portions of DC(which would become part of Maryland).

Posted by: eagleeye11 | April 26, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, has anyone in the media noticed that a Puerto Rico statehood bill is on the US House calendar for a vote this week?? Question One: Why does Puerto Rico get a vote on statehood before DC does? Question Two: This bill would authorize a local referendum on PR's future, but with the voters' choices prescribed by Congress. Do we residents of DC want to see the precedent that Congress can direct a territory on how to conduct a referendum, and what the voters' choices are? Question 3: Will floor amendments be allowed, and could such amendments present additional opportunities or threats for DC statehood?

Posted by: dalecurtis | April 26, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

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