WASHINGTON — With the nation’s attention focused on New Hampshire, officials in Washington, D.C., are headed to the Granite State to air their bid to make the District of Columbia the 51st state.
A delegation led by Mayor Vincent C. Gray will appear Thursday before a New Hampshire legislative committee in its first stop at state capitols across the country to build support for giving the district voting representation in Congress. Washington’s lack of a vote in Congress has been a long-standing gripe.
“Taxation without representation” appears on D.C. license plates. And a D.C. councilman recently polled residents on the idea of renaming Pennsylvania Avenue to perhaps Free D.C. Avenue, 51st State Way, Let D.C. Vote Way or another name.
The district’s 600,000 residents pay federal taxes and can vote for president but have a nonvoting delegate in the House and no representation in the Senate.
“We in the district have spent enough time talking to ourselves about the issue of statehood,” Councilman David Catania said. “For our efforts to be successful, we must expand the conversation. Our trip to New Hampshire marks the start of that expanded dialogue about self-determination and self-respect.
Councilman Michael Brown said he has talked with officials in other states, from Alaska to Florida, about securing their support for resolutions supporting statehood.
Legislation to provide for “the admission of the state of New Columbia into the Union” has languished in Congress.
A constitutional amendment calling for one voting member of the House and two senators for the city won approval of only 16 of the required 38 states before expiring in 1985.
The House in 1993 rejected a bill to make the district a state. The idea faced resistance from a number of Republicans because the strongly Democratic district would probably elect two Democratic senators and a Democratic member of the House if it became a state.
A bill that would have added two seats to the House: one for the strongly Democratic District of Columbia and another for Republican-leaning Utah died in 2010 after a measure was attached to it that would have weakened D.C. gun laws.
A delegation of about 20 Washingtonians plans to visit New Hampshire to attend a hearing on a resolution expressing support for making the district a state. “We cannot achieve our goal of statehood without the support of the states,” D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown blogged, calling New Hampshire a logical starting point considering its motto: “Live Free or Die.”
Washingtonians made a similar visit to New Hampshire in 2008.