For the first time in two decades, Congress will hold a hearing on whether to allow the District to become a state. And that is where the exercise will end. In a bill that will come before a U.S. Senate committee Monday, the District would become “New Columbia,” the 51st state. The District’s mayor would become a governor and the D.C. Council a state legislature. For the first time since its founding more than two centuries ago, District residents would also be free to elect voting members to Congress. By all accounts, the measure still has no chance on Capitol Hill. Making a full-fledged state out of the nation’s capital, where 76 percent of voters are registered Democrats, would hand the party two seats in the Senate and one in the House, a prospect that Republicans unapologetically oppose. Even a majority of Senate Democrats have remained cool to the idea, with some in swing states fearing it could be viewed back home as a partisan power grab.
It’s not entirely clear why Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) introduced the measure other than to appease advocates. He waited 20 months to hold a hearing. He scheduled it on a Monday, when many lawmakers typically remain in their home districts. Senate staffers said Carper has no plans after Monday’s hearing to push for a vote.
Even calling Monday’s event a hearing might be generous. It was unknown Friday how many of the bill’s 17 Democratic co-sponsors — let alone Republicans — would attend.