The long overdue Washington, D.C. Admission Act, which passed in the House of Representatives last year, would finally extend Congressional representation to the hundreds of thousands of American citizens living in the District of Columbia.
The challenges of climate change, including threats to clean water, cannot be met without the full power of our government. But that can’t happen with so many American citizens being excluded from the democratic process.
If this legislation is passed, the city of Washington would reside in the newly formed Douglass Commonwealth, named in honor of Frederick Douglass. This 51st state would immediately be the most racially diverse state in the union. Most critically, these hundreds of thousands of Americans would finally get their own Senators and a Representative on equal footing with other members of Congress.
Washington, D.C. is already home to nearly 700,000 people, giving it a population higher than both Wyoming and Vermont. District residents also pay the highest per-capita federal income tax rate in the country and pay more in total federal income taxes than 22 other states.
Yet, none of these citizens are represented in Congress. They are not allowed to raise their voices in how budgets are formed, which legislation is passed, and who gets to sit on the Supreme Court. These Americans are unjustly relegated to spectators in the processes of the federal government.
While the Constitution stipulates that a Federal District be established and remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress, it does not specify how small that federal zone must be. This legislation would carve out a new Federal District, which would include the White House, U.S. Capitol, and other federal buildings and monuments. The rest of D.C., where all those hundreds of thousands of American citizens live, would finally get represented in Congress. There’s even some precedent for this. In 1846, the Federal District’s boundaries were changed when modern-day Arlington and Alexandria counties were returned to the state of Virginia.
If passed, this bill would allow the framers’ intent to be maintained without subjecting hundreds of thousands of Americans to unjust disenfranchisement. It’s time to end taxation without representation. We need a fully functioning democracy that hears the voices of all its citizens to combat climate change, environmental and social injustice, as well as the many threats to clean water.