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Washington, DC statehood

Last Updated:2017-Mar-07
Principal Writer:Barry Shatzman

Issue Sections

Understanding The Issue
Issue Status
Our Analysis and Actions
What You Can Do
More Information
The Rumor Mill

Reported News


Related Bills

Washington, D.C. Admission Act

2017 (HR-1291)

New Columbia Admission Act

2015 (HR-317)


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U.S. citizens with no representation in Congress

In the United States, our system of government is that we elect people who are empowered to represent our interests. Yet for more than half a million U.S. citizens living in the nation, this isn't the case.

They are full U.S. citizens. They are subject to the same taxes as the rest of the country. When their youths turn 18 they must register with the Selective Service just as those in every other state.

They elect a member of the House of Representatives, but - unlike the representatives elected by all other U.S. citizens - this representative is not given a vote. They have no representation in the Senate.

They are the residents of the District of Columbia (Washington, DC), and the reason is that the District of Columbia is not a state.

That makes the United States the only democracy on Earth in which citizens living in its capital have no representation in the country's legislature.

An effort is being made in Congress to turn the residential sections of Washington, DC into the country's 51st state.

The lack of representation and self-determination has real effects

Not living in a state hits District of Columbia residents from two sides - lack of representation and limited self-determination.

Not being represented in Congress means things like...

o Not having a vote in how federal public money is spent (although District residents pay the same federal taxes as residents of any state)

o Not having a vote in whether Congress declares war or authorizes other military action (although when District youths turn 18 they must register with the Selective Service just as those in every other state.

The district also has very restricted self-determination at the local level. All laws enacted by the D.C. City Council or passed by a vote of city residents are subject to being overturned by Congress, including the 2014 voter initiative allowing people to grow and possess marijuana and restrictions on gun sales.

Congress also controls the District's budget - both tax revenue and money available for programs. The result has been inadequate resources for things like infrastructure, schools, libraries, and police.

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