WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Senator Carper begins legislative push for D.C. statehood


Seemingly out of the blue, Delaware's senior U.S. Senator Tom Carper has introduced statehood legislation for the District of Columbia.

Co-sponsors are three Democrats generally regarded to the ideological left of Carper: California's Barbara Boxer; Illinois' Dick Durbin; and Washington state's Patty Murray.

Since many Republicans regard D.C. statehood as tantamount to handing the Democrats two new perpetual U.S. Senate seats, and a Democratic House seat, this latest statehood legislation may be only symbolic. Critics of D.C. statehood also offer legal objections: The U.S. Constitution holds that only states can be represented in Congress, and consequently, a Constitutional Amendment would be required.

A different kind of D.C. proposal came up a few years ago when Utah lawmakers came up with a novel scenario to increase the House temporarily by two additional members -- one from D.C. and one from the state entitled under a statutory framework to the 436th seat... which would have been heavily-Republican Utah's under the 2000 census!

I e-mailed Senator Carper's press office in an attempt to get the senator to respond to questions about his advocacy of D.C. statehood. Friday doesn't look too promising.

So why did the senator decide to push D.C. statehood now?

An Associated Press story notes Carper is the incoming Chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the nation's capital. Carper replaces Connecticut's Joe Lieberman, who has long advocated voting rights for the district. Lieberman introduced statehood legislation during the last Congress. And Carper and Lieberman forged a close relationship, sometime to the annoyance of both political parties.

Maybe Carper's tired of seeing the slogan on Washington D.C.'s regular issue license plates: "Taxation Without Representation".

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a statehood bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. (The D.C. delegate can introduce legislation, but lacks a floor vote.)

Posted at 7:39pm on January 24, 2013 by Allan Loudell

<- Back to all Allan Loudell posts

Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Jan 24, 2013 11:10pm
This issue, is just like the illegal immigration issue - a very political issue. The DEMS stand to gain by allowing a pathway to legal status as most of those Hispanic folks would probably vote DEM so naturally the DEMS are more in favor of that position. Whereas the GOP is more against it for that same reason.

The DC statehood thing is the same situation. The DEMS would gain, so they're in favor of it and the GOP is against it.

One way to resolve that DC issue is to take the residential parts of DC and give one part to Virginia and the part that borders Maryland back to Maryland. The Governmental section of DC can stay as the Capital, a no man's land.

Allan Loudell
Fri, Jan 25, 2013 6:10am

I would think the idea of Maryland and Virginia "absorbing" the non-governmental parts of Washington, D.C. would be even LESS likely than D.C. eventually gaining full Congressional representation and/or statehood.

Virginia's Republicans would resist because the addition of staunchly Democratic territory would doubtless tip Virginia's political balance more in favor of the Dems. But that point may be moot anyway. Lest we forget, the District is not a complete square because Congress returned the Virginia portion of D.C. to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1846, a process called retrocession. (In the previous decade, D.C.'s south side of Alexandria suffered economic calamity. Alexandria was a hub for trading slaves. Folks in Alexandria feared further economic implosion from abolitionists in Congress banishing slavery in the District. Indeed, the Compromise of 1850 eliminated the slave trade in D.C., but technically not slavery itself. President Lincoln's Compensated Emancipation Act - nine months before Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation - formally abolished slavery in the District.)

So would Democratic majority Maryland be willing to absorb the District? That's more plausible, for obvious reasons, but even Maryland might have reservations about absorbing an urban entity, a part of which suffers extreme poverty, and that has made D.C. "the murder capital of the nation" in some past years.

Doubtless, D.C. itself would resist absorption, just like most cities in the United States oppose metropolitan government for fear of diluting minority political power. The District's residents DO have a right to vote for President and Vice President, under the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1961.

The most practical way for D.C. to become a state, I think, would be to pair it with the elevation of a U.S. territory - a Republican-dominated territory - to statehood, so we'd have 52 states. Problem: None of the key territories, to my knowledge, leans significantly G.O.P., although Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands currently have Republican Governors. Indeed, Guam has had more Republican governors than Democratic governors since that island began electing its governors. And the G.O.P. dominates over the Dems in the Northern Marianas, to the extent that the Republicans' key opposition party is an indigenous party, the Covenant Party. But Guam or especially the Northern Mariana Islands as a state? Really? Difficult to imagine! (While most Americans have heard of Guam, I bet not one in one hundred would be aware of the existence of the Northern Mariana Islands!) The U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa have leaned Democrat in recent years.

Some argue Puerto Rico is the obvious choice, because it's not as Democratic-dominated as some people think; Puerto Rico has elected two Republican governors, for example. (Although Luis Furtuno was the first G.O.P. governor of Puerto Rico in 35 years, when he was elected in 2008!) But the linguistic conundrum intrudes; some English-only folks might fear awarding mostly-Spanish, Puerto Rico statehood status might create the American equivalent of a Quebec, and lead to other concessions to Spanish as America's second language.

Allan Loudell

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jan 25, 2013 8:35am
Allan: I served for 6 months in Guam while in the Air Force back in 1972. Fantastic sunrises. Because I was on Guam, I have heard of the Mariana Islands.

Thanks for the background on the territories and the DC area and the Civil War, etc.

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 8:42am
Best way to add a new state is to have Southern Delaware secede from Northern Delaware. There are millions of people who live below the C & D Canal who do not see eye-to-eye with Carper, Coons, and Carney, who are all representing the interests of people upstate in Delaware.

So forget about Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico. Southern Delaware would be the best choice for a new state.

Allan Loudell
Fri, Jan 25, 2013 9:27am
Good luck with that too.

Many other states have North/South or city/rural splits. But other than the special case of West Virginia, such break-ups are not in the cards! Even the would-be state of Franklin (eastern Tennessee) went through two stillbirths.

But you're correct in the sense that a southern Delaware or southern Illinois would "balance" statehood for D.C.

But for how long? Don't forget about demographic trends. With urban people from the D.C. area and elsewhere invading coastal Sussex County, and Hispanics ascendant, conservatives might not have a "lock" even on Sussex County, let alone Kent County!

Allan Loudell

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 9:31am
One of Delaware's advantages is that we have far more Federal representation per capita than do most other states. If we can privilege ourselves to include the Vice President, who officially has some Senate duties, we have the MOST representation per capita of all states...

Counting Biden, our ratio is about one in 237,500....(317,000 w/o Biden) compared to California, one in 709,000....which is our most populous state.

The ratios of the territories you mentioned are as follows. (based off 2010 Census)...

City Population Delegation/ratio
DC 600,000 3 1/200,000
Guam 160,000 3 1/52,000
N.Mariana Isl. 53,000 3 1/18,000
Puerto Rico 3,700,000 7 1/528,000
US Virgins 106,000 3 1/35,000
Am Samoa 55,000 3 1/18,300

Of course, there are some guesses involved. One, if any new state is added, would we choose to raise the total number of House seats? Most people would say no. The House will always be 435, based on what happened with Alaska and Hawaii) and so any new representative from any new state would take-away representatives of other states.

Also the assumption above is that each new state gets its two Senators, regardless of the size of its population.

The two best options are Puerto Rico and DC, based on population that is not being currently represented. However, I saw an American Samoa representative was grilling Hillary Clinton over Benghazi, so though they don't vote, they have some inside lobbying clout, I'm sure.

All these data make the reasoning behind Carper's recent foray into this argument even more bewildering.

My guess is that in watching the Inaugural ceremonies he too must have thought it looked silly for the President of the United States of America to climb into a car whose plates were shown on TV, as saying "Taxation without representation."

And for future trivia reasons only.... lol.... The Constitution originally mandated one representative for every thirty thousand people. If so, we would now have, 10,500 members of the House of Representatives... (DC would need giant windmills to blow the hot-air away during the summers). Although every state's level differs, the national average balances to around 1/600,000 right now...

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 9:49am
Btw, if you mention Samoans to most Americans, they will assume you are talking about a Girl Scout cookie. I would venture a vote to say that of their cookies, that is the Girl Scout's best brand.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jan 25, 2013 10:19am
Kavips: I have no idea about the birds, we were working 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week, sometimes 7 (we sent 150 B-52's per day to Viet Nam, just from Guam - I was an aircraft electrician).

Also most of the island then was jungle, with villages and the one main town (Agana), which is the capital, that had one radio station that played EZ listening, not a network affiliate to any radio network (Thank the Lord for Armed Forces Radio). Used to get a kick out of the DJ at the Agana station (forget the calls), really was more of an announcer, he'd say, "Studio time is 10:15 a.m." Very formal in his presentation.

Allan, they have a beautiful Catholic Cathedral there. I was Catholic back then and on occasion led the singing at the Mass there, when I was able to get into town to worship.

Back then it was a popular place for the Japanese for honeymoons, there were 4 or 5 Japanese large Hotels there back then.

But the sunrise was worth getting up to see. The eastern sky would be like a rainbow with the largest section being a deep red, just breathtaking. The Base Chapel had a sunrise Mass there on the base beach for Easter. They had three life-sized crosses on the shore facing the sunrise. I've never been to a more impressive sunrise service since.

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 11:03am

What happened to 'open phone' Friday?

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jan 25, 2013 1:14pm
Teatime: you mean, Open Friday - Weekend Forum? We don't use phones here.

It's there now.

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 4:58pm
Mike, just a couple of quick questions about Guam since I have the opportunity to ask someone during that period.

How much runway clearance did the B52's have? I heard from a B52 pilot that Guam was the worst because fully loaded you needed 11,000 feet and Guam only had 10,800... Just wondered if you could corroborate that from stories being told on the ground there?

So you were there December 18 thru 29 in '72? And I'm guessing (I think you mentioned it once before) in the 303rd?

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jan 25, 2013 9:41pm
Kavips: I was on TDY from Eielson AFB Alaska for 6 months, and don't remember the unit that was actually stationed there, living in base housing and the barracks. I was there with 10,000 other TDY troops sleeping in tents and tin huts to support the bombing of Hanoi and the Port of Hyphong.

I remember my first day at Andersen AFB, Guam. The guy showing me around took me to a vantage point to watch a B-52 take off (those are gigantic aircraft). The run way ended at the end of a cliff (the length I don't know), but when the B-52 took off it dropped out of sight. I remembering saying, its going to crash. He laughed and said, watch. A few minutes (seemed like an eternity) I could see the B-52 off in the distance sweeping up. They used to bring the new folks there to see that to see their reaction.

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 4:57am
Mike, maybe you remember some of these scenes..


Mike from Delaware
Sat, Jan 26, 2013 9:36am
Kavips: That was like going into a time-machine. That beach scene, was where we had that sunrise service. Thanks for posting the link. Sure brought back both good and "military" memories.

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 12:20am
I think aside from partisan politics, that the general populations of Prince Georges and Fairfax counties would not want to absorb the non-governmental portions of DC for the simple reason that they would end up with their crime and drug issues. DC is not a pretty place when you move out from the capital area.

Sun, Jan 27, 2013 12:30am
I see a parallel between DC statehood and privatization of the post office. Neither will happen because neither political party will have anything left to pick on. They need both anytime they need to refer to the inefficiency of anything. After all, they can't refer to themselves in that way!

Mike from Delaware
Mon, Jan 28, 2013 7:34am
Mrpizza: Well said.

Add your comment:
Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members Only Group username and password are required to process your post.

You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please click here.

Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.

Copyright © 2014, Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.   Terms of Use.
WDEL Statement of Equal Employment Opportunity and Outreach