Tuesday, January 13
Votes, if not statehood, for DC, Part III: What's on the Table
DC's House delegate, Elenor Holmes Norton, has introduced the No Taxation Without Representation Act, which would give DC seats in the House commensurate to its population (i.e., one seat) and 2 seats in the Senate. This must be wholly symbolic (I imagine Ms. Norton introduces such a bill every term), because DC's predicament is courtesy of the US Constitution and cannot be remedied by ordinary legislation.
Although granting DC voting representation in Congress despite its not being a "state" would require a constitutional amendment, making DC a state would not. I think this is a major advantage for the statehood advocates -- once they lock up the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, the deed can be done in short order. Now, easier said than done. [Update: I'm wrong on this point. The Constitution is explicity about DC being a federal district. DC statehood should require an amendment.]
Along the lines of the proposal that I used to favor, Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula has introduced the romantically named (sounds like a movie on the Lifetime Channel) District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act. This calls for retrocession of DC to Maryland, with Congress continuing to exercise control over the so-called "National Capital Service Area," where you can stop the car, get gas, and take a leak. No, not really -- it's the area surrounding the major monuments, the Mall, and prominent federal buildings. This proposal's major weakness appears to be that nobody from DC or Maryland has signed on to it.
According to this article about today's DC primary, suburban Virginia Congressman Tom Davis has yet another compromise: one House seat for DC, balanced by giving solidly Republican Utah an additional, 4th seat, with no change in the Senate.
Utah? In the 2000 census figures driving reapportionment, Utah got royally cheesed -- it fell absurdly short of an additional House seat (I can't remember, but maybe around 2,000 people short) while thousands of permanent Utah residents temporarily abroad as Mormon missionaries were excluded from the count. Tough break, and I guess Tom Davis thinks this would make up for it. As for the proposal, there's some weirdness here, like whether in 2010, when Utah probably will qualify for a 4th seat, Utah will get to keep Tom Davis' gimme as a 5th. Then we still have the whole constitutional problem surrounding a voting representative from a territory that is not a state.