Congressional Democrats appear to have lost a crucial vote in their push to make Washington, D.C., state.
In an interview with Hoppy Kercheval of West Virginia’s MetroNews, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) said he opposes the push by Congress to make Washington, D.C., the country’s 51st state, “They all came to the same conclusion: If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment. It should propose a constitutional amendment.”
“Let the people of America vote,” he added.
Last month, the House voted 216-208 to pass legislation to make Washington, D.C., a state. However, it faces long odds in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.
The potential new state would be called “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth,” named after George Washington, the first president, and famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
While Manchin said he believes the 23rd Amendment requires a change to the Constitution to make Washington, D.C. a state, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a nonvoting delegate in the House for D.C., said in a statement, “Those who make such an assertion are conflating a policy choice and a constitutional requirement.”
“First, no new state was admitted by constitutional amendment. All 37 new states were admitted by Congress, and there has never been a successful constitutional challenge to the admission of a state. The Constitution commits admission decisions solely to Congress,” she continued.
Democrats argue that Washington, D.C. should be made a state to provide the “more than 700,000 Americans citizens who pay federal taxes, who fight and die in wars, who serve on our juries” representation in Congress.
Without Manchin’s support it would be very difficult for Democrats to reach the 60 vote threshold to pass legislation in the chamber as Republicans strongly oppose the push and would likely vote against it.