As many Democrats try to push for D.C. statehood, it’s important to understand the logistical challenges that come with this move, and why it is not an appropriate course of action.
D.C. was designed to be a neutral zone outside of the influence of any single state. The purpose being that no state should be overly loyal to the federal government, nor should the federal government be beholden to any state.
Even though the recently passed House bill leaves out the Capitol Complex — the 20 main federal buildings — entire functions of it would be controlled by the new state, which is completely unreasonable.
For example, the Capitol Complex would be reliant on the new state for services, such as snow removal, law enforcement and fire protection.
D.C.’s ratified constitution would allow such service employees to go on strike, which would leave the Capitol helpless. Currently, D.C. employees are prohibited from striking for this very reason.
If statehood is achieved and the state constitution goes into effect, when D.C. residents demand something from the federal government, all they would need to do is suspend these services, a power no state should have.
Congress’s loss of control over the majority of the D.C. area would nullify many other pieces of legislation regarding the city.
Along with the already mentioned anti-striking law, another serious matter is the building height limit, which has protected the historic skyline and architecture of the city and prevents skyscrapers from looming over the White House.
D.C.’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, has expressed interest in removing such a restriction, which reduces my trust in D.C.’s local government to protect our capital city’s history and culture.
Additionally, I don’t trust her defending the capital, as she and many D.C. residents opposed law enforcement during the highly destructive and violent BLM riots.
There are also the constitutional issues involved with statehood.
The popular constitutional question involves the 23rd Amendment, which grants three electoral votes to the District.
If D.C.’s proposal were to be carved out of the capital and granted statehood, that would still leave the Capitol Complex with three votes, giving immense power to the handful of people who live there or could live there.
Additionally, the Supreme Court case S.R.A., Inc. v. Minnesota ruled that if the federal government relinquishes land provided by a state, that property would return to the donor state by default.
D.C. was created from land donated by Virginia and Maryland. Virginia demanded its side of the river back, leaving D.C. with its current borders.
Applying the ruling in this case would mean that any land carved out of D.C. would immediately go back to Maryland, which would have the final say in allowing the proposed state into the union.
A state as small as D.C. would also fail to meet basic requirements expected of states.
At a mere 61 square miles, this city-state has very little room for population growth, which is expected of states joining the union.
D.C. also has the least diverse economy of any American state or territory. It is near monopoly levels of economic concentration and is more than 30% worse than the least economically diverse state, Delaware.
With such a small area, there’s no room for agriculture, forestry, mining, energy production or many other means of generating revenue.
Contrary to what statehood advocates frequently claim, anti-statehood arguments are neither about how blue the city is, nor are they arguments about race. These points are simply identifying the legal and operational challenges of the proposed city-state.
I am opposed to the reckless “grant statehood now, work out details later,” mentality and the complete lack of respect for the neutral zone D.C. is supposed to serve.
D.C. should remain a separate and unique entity, as opposed to being completely retroceded or granted statehood.
I believe D.C. should be semi-retroceded back to Maryland. In this system, D.C. residents would be considered Maryland citizens for the purpose of voting in federal elections, giving them representation in the House and Senate.
This semi-retroceded method is how voting in D.C. worked between 1790 and 1800 and has been introduced in Congress multiple times in recent history.
Under this system, not only would D.C. residents obtain congressional representation, but Congress would still maintain control of the land, services and utilities of D.C.
Ultimately, I seek a compromise that provides D.C. residents representation while still remaining true to the founding principles, something that many Democrats seem eager to abandon.