It’s a bill that is going absolutely, positively nowhere this two-year session of Congress, but Virginia’s two U.S. senators have signed up as cosponsors of a measure giving statehood to a portion of the District of Columbia.
“Virginia’s neighbors in D.C. have been denied the right to representation for far too long,” said U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine in a joint statement, likely knowing full well that if the measure were to get out of the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate over the next two years – and even that seems unlikely – it would be dead on arrival in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Last year, companion legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Del. Eleanor Norton Holmes (D-D.C.) passed on a party-line vote of 216-208.
But that measure – approved when the House of Representatives was still in Democratic hands – died at the end of the 2021-22 legislative session in December without gaining any traction in the U.S. Senate, even though the Democratic leadership of the Senate has eight months to schedule hearings and a vote.
The new Senate bill is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) Were it to be adopted, the District of Columbia would be the first state created since Alaska and Hawaii more than 60 years ago.
In an attempt to circumvent a constitutional challenge, the bill designates the areas surrounding the White House, Capitol, the Supreme Court and the National Mall as the seat of the federal government and maintains congressional control of that area.
District of Columbia residents since the 1960s have been able to cast ballots in presidential elections, but do not have voting representation on the floor of either house of Congress.