Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Friday he did not support a bill to turn Washington into the 51st state, which is likely to doom the Senate to a chance. Manchin argues that the statehood of DC should be addressed with a constitutional amendment.
“If Congress wants to make DC a state, it must propose a constitutional amendment,” Manchin said in an interview with West Virginia radio network MetroNews. “It must propose a constitutional amendment and let the people of America vote.”
The house, HR 51, through the party last month to create the state of Washington, Douglas Fellowship, named after Frederick Douglas. This will give two US senators and a representative with the right to vote in the House, like any other state. The bill will also secede from the White House, the Capitol and the National Mall to remain under federal control as the seat of the US government.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where Democrats have a 50-seat majority. Most Senate legislation requires 60 votes in favor, and the bill is now unlikely to receive support from 1
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to present the measure to a vote, but the proposal to move forward with the legislation is almost certain to fail.
Manchin refers to the 23rd Amendment, which gives DC residents representation in the Electoral College, but does not give them representatives with the right to vote in Congress. He argued that the adoption of a statehood bill would not stand up to judicial scrutiny, saying “you know he will go to the Supreme Court.”
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the House’s non-voting representative in the House, spoke out against Manchin in a statement Friday without making a direct statement. She argued that the 23rd Amendment should not be repealed in order to give DC statehood, saying that “those who make such a claim link political choice and constitutional requirement.” Manchin did not explicitly call for the repeal of the 23rd Amendment.
“No new state has been adopted with constitutional amendments. All 37 new states have been adopted by Congress and there has never been a successful constitutional challenge to state admission. The constitution binds admission decisions only to Congress,” Norton said.
An amendment to make DC a state will not come to an election with the American people. The proposed amendment will have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the two houses of Congress and then ratified by legislators in 38 countries.
A spokesman for Senator Tom Carper, a leading sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said the senator believed that “the stars are lining up to correct this historic injustice.”
“The Constitution – including the 23rd Amendment – does not prohibit the granting of statehood to the District of Columbia, nor does it establish a minimum size of the state or location of the Federal District. However, the Constitution determines the process by which countries are admitted to the Union – and DC which 37 other countries have undertaken since 1791, “the spokesman said in a statement.
For the proponents of the bill, DC’s statehood is a matter of civil rights. The area has a population of over 700,000 people, larger than the population of Wyoming or Vermont. But while these two states have two senators and a representative in the House, DC has no representation to vote in Congress.
Proponents of the state also point out that DC pays more federal taxes than 21 states and more per capita than any state, according to IRS data for 2019. The district is also diverse, with a population of 46% black and a majority white. If allowed, this would be the first country with a large black population.