District of Columbia Evokes Spirit of 1776 in Battle for Statehood
WASHINGTON — District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton evoked the Founding Fathers to plead their case for district statehood while riding in a statehood parade to the Capitol on Monday.
The two D.C. political leaders were joined in front of the John A. Wilson Building, the seat of the District government, by high-spirited U.S. veterans from D.C. waving American flags with 51 stars and chanting “Fif-ty-one! Fif-ty-one!”
The delegation then climbed onto a double-decker statehood bus for an 11-block trek that included a stop in front of Trump International Hotel.
As the bus crept toward the Capitol, curious pedestrians and reckless motorists pulled out their smartphone cameras to snap photos of the spectacle. One driver in a mint green Subaru even honked along to the rhythm of the “State-hood now!” chants.
The bus ride came ahead of a House hearing scheduled Thursday on Norton’s D.C. statehood bill.
The bill, appropriately enough H.R. 51, has reached the 219 co-sponsors threshold needed for a vote in the House, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has strongly endorsed it. It would make D.C.’s eight wards a full state and give full voting power to its House delegate, along with two senators. The bill specifies that the Capitol complex and National Mall would remain under federal control.
Norton has introduced a D.C. statehood bill every term since coming to the House in 1991. In her first term, her legislation had no co-sponsors. In the next Congress, it picked up 81 co-sponsors — but ultimately flopped, 153-277, when it came to the floor in 1993.
No Republicans have signed on in support, however.
Many congressional Republicans see D.C. statehood or voting representation in Congress as a disadvantage to them, citing the district’s heavily Democratic patterns.
The parade ended on Third Street, where Bowser and Holmes Norton addressed the young and mostly African American crowd decked out in white T-shirts emblazoned with “51.”
“I was born without representation,” said Bowser. “I will not die without representation. We pay taxes” like other states. “We fight in wars like they do,” she added, before citing the District residents who have died abroad fighting for democracy. “We’re coming for what is due us.”
Though no one dumped a box of mambo sauce into the Potomac River, the veterans claimed the legacy of 1776 while making the case for statehood. One speaker called D.C.’s current “taxation without representation” nothing short of King George’s tyranny, which exists “until the 51st star goes up there” on the American flag.
Norton, not to be outdone, was in a feisty mood.
“You’re damn lucky we didn’t take this bus to the steps of the Capitol,” she said.
When asked what happens once the bill passes the House and reaches a Senate controlled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Norton said, “He won’t be there much longer.” The Kentucky Republican is up for reelection in 2020.
The afternoon was not without contradiction. During the Pledge of Allegiance, one woman insisted “nope, I don’t do that.” This woman was wearing American-flag themed athletic leggings.
©2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved
Visit CQ Roll Call at www.rollcall.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
In The News
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday restored the voting rights of more than 140,000 people with nonviolent felony convictions, making good on an inaugural promise he made after being sworn in recently. The order signed by Beshear applies to Kentuckians who have committed nonviolent offenses and... Read More
LOS ANGELES — It came as a bittersweet surprise to biologists and government agencies monitoring the steadily shrinking Salton Sea’s slide toward death by choking dust storms and salt. Thousands of acres of exposed lake bed have become, of all things, the unintended beneficiaries of lush... Read More
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Zachary Berg usually buys guns and ammunition with relative ease. After all, he’s a Sutter County sheriff’s deputy and needs them for his job. California’s stringent gun laws usually don’t apply to him. But Berg couldn’t buy shotgun shells at his local hardware... Read More
NEW YORK — The flu is out in force. And so far this season, it’s been hitting children the hardest. Influenza is a wily virus — it’s almost impossible to predict where and how it will strike as it circumnavigates the globe. There are, however, some... Read More
WASHINGTON — Call it President Donald Trump’s Guadalcanal: Like the tiny island U.S. Marines invaded in World War II to break Japan’s Asia-Pacific chokehold, little Juneau County, Wis., is where Trump needs to halt the Democrats’ advance. The struggle for 2020 hearts and minds is more... Read More
State-funded merit scholarships are politically popular. But as college tuition rises, policymakers in some states are starting to rethink financial aid that disproportionately benefits white, wealthy students and often duplicates scholarships awarded by public universities. Lawmakers in Georgia added a need-based grant last year, as did... Read More