By Lyra Bordelon
A number of West Virginia legislators signed a letter asking each of West Virginia’s federal representatives to reject any consideration of statehood for Washington D.C. In social media posts, Greenbrier County delegates Barry Bruce and Todd Longanacre announced their support for the letter, and stated Senator Jack Woodrum also signed.
The letter argues that the 712,000 residents of the potential 51st state should not become so in order to preserve West Virginia’s stake in controlling the federal government.
“If Washington, D.C. became a state, the representation of West Virginians in Congress would be further diminished by adding two additional Senators to the United States Senate and shifting the balance of power sharply for the foreseeable future,” reads the letter. “Additionally, the District of Columbia’s three current non-voting Congressmen would have the authority to vote in the United States House of Representatives, minimizing the voices of West Virginia’s three Congressional Representatives. Furthermore, the constitutionality of D.C. statehood has been called into question for decades and has never been settled. The District of Columbia was set aside as a separate city where the federal government could operate independently.”
In a separate post to social media announcing the letter, both Longanacre and Bruce backed this up.
“[Bruce and Longanacre] signed on to a letter sent to WV’s U.S. Congressmen and Senators Capito and Manchin, urging them to reject statehood for Washington D.C.,” reads posts shared by both Longanacre and Bruce. “Statehood for DC would minimize the voice of West Virginians and shift the balance of power to liberals for decades. We cannot let this happen!”
Previously, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin noted he was uncertain on the possibility of statehood, saying he would need “to see the pros and the cons,” according to reporting from The Washington Post. The letter was signed shortly after this reporting, and directly references Manchin’s current position as the most moderate Democrat in the Democratically controlled Senate. This gives him tremendous negotiating power for any vote, including Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 care package and potential $1,400 stimulus checks.
“Senator Manchin, as you are well aware, you will play a key role in determining if this issue and many other controversial issues become law,” reads the letter. “As representatives of constituents throughout West Virginia, it is our duty to address their concerns and make you aware as to where they stand.”
Although a controversial subject for many Republicans and Democrats, the statehood for D.C. movement argued that the residents “fulfill all of the obligations of US citizenship and yet are denied representation,” noting that:
– DC has 712,000 residents, more than Vermont and Wyoming and comparable with other states including Delaware, Alaska, and several others, which pay the highest per-capita federal income taxes in the US. In total, DC residents pay more in total federal income tax than residents of 22 other states, but have no say over how those tax dollars are spent.
– DC residents have fought and died in every war, yet those armed service members are denied the freedoms they have fought to protect.
– DC elects a non-voting Delegate to the US House of Representatives who can draft legislation but cannot vote.
– The Constitution sets only a maximum size, “ten miles square,” for the federal district that is the “Seat of the Government of the United States.” Congress has the authority to redefine the borders of the federal district and shrink its size, as it did in 1846, when the portion west of the Potomac was returned to Virginia (now Arlington and Alexandria Counties.
D.C. was originally carved out in order to preserve the political independence of the capitol, not giving residents a non proportional control or influence over the rest of the country. Some proposals call for many of D.C.’s residents to be brought under Maryland’s representation while retaining the “new state” plan of removing The White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court and keeping them in a separate, non-affiliated enclave.
See the full letter below: