House Democrats voted 216-208 today to pass a bill that attempts to make Washington D.C. the 51st state. The bill, which republicans say violates the Constitution, would also force Americans to fund abortions.
The Democrats’ legislation would in theory create a 51st state with one representative and two senators. However, the measure now heads to the Senate, where Republicans are expected to filibuster it and Democrats will not find 60 votes to end the filibuster and the legislation will die — unless Democrats try to ramrod the bill through the chamber by ditching the filibuster vote this bill.
Under the bill, the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall would remain as a federal district bu the rest of the heavily Democrat District of Columbia would become a state. The new state would be known as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named after the famous abolitionist.
Republicans say the proposed state explicitly violates the Constitution and would go against what the nation’s founders wanted.
They “never wanted DC to be a state and then specifically framed the constitution to say so,” said Georgia Republican Rep. Jody Hice. “This is absolutely against what our founders intended and it ought to be soundly rejected.”
Some liberal leaders on Capitol Hill want to strike while the iron is hot and make the capital district a state, which would virtually guarantee three more pro-abortion Democrat members in Congress, including two additional liberal senators who would make it incredibly difficult for Republicans to retake the Senate.
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Aside from the partisan reasons most Republicans oppose making Washington a state, not to mention the obvious Constitutional problems, a leading pro-life group says there is a pro-life reason to keep the District of Columbia from statehood as well.
The National Right to Life Committee says statehood would result in Americans being forced to pay for killing babies in abortions with their tax dollars. The following is a letter NRLC sent members of the House urging a no vote on statehood prior to today’s vote:
This week, the House will consider H.R. 51 which purports to grant statehood to the District of Columbia. National Right to Life urges you to oppose the bill and reserves the right to include a House roll call on this measure in our scorecard of key pro-life votes of the 117th Congress.
Article I of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress holds complete legislative authority over the District of Columbia (“exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever”). That is why the entire budget for the District of Columbia (including revenues generated by local sources) is and has been appropriated by Congress through an annual appropriations bill.
The Dornan Amendment, or the “D.C. Hyde Amendment,” prohibits the use of government funds to pay for abortion in the Federal District (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest). For decades (with brief interruptions), this policy has been part of the annual appropriations bill that covers the District.
In 2009, Democrats succeeded in temporarily repealing the amendment for a period of 2 years. During that time, taxpayers were known to have paid for at least 300 abortions in Washington, D.C.
If H.R. 51 were to take effect, the predictable result will be tax funding of hundreds (if not more) of elective abortions in D.C. annually.
In general terms, the Hyde Amendment has long prohibited direct federal funding of abortion (with narrow exceptions) in the numerous federal programs, including Medicaid. However, a minority of states (15) use state dollars to fund elective abortion for Medicaid recipients. Should D.C. gain statehood, we would expect it to quickly join these states in paying for elective abortion.
Further, setting aside the abortion implications of H.R. 51, it is unlikely that Congress can make D.C. a state without a constitutional amendment. Justice Departments under both Democratic and Republican administrations have consistently (and nearly universally) agreed that statehood for D.C. cannot be accomplished by a simple majority vote in Congress. Congress has only those powers that are enumerated in the Constitution, mainly in Article I, section 8, and Congress has no power to create a fifty-first state from the present District of Columbia. Additionally, per Article IV, Section 3, it is likely that Maryland would need to agree separately that the land it originally ceded to create the District could now become a separate state.
Thank you for your consideration of NRLC’s position on this matter.
That’s hundreds of babies possibly saved every year from abortion if D.C. does not become a state.