Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton called for making the nation’s capital the country’s 51st state on Wednesday, promising to be a “vocal champion” for D.C. statehood. She blasted presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for failing to say whether D.C. residents should have the same voting rights as other Americans. “In the case of our nation’s capital, we have an entire populace that is routinely denied a voice in its own democracy. . . . Washingtonians serve in the military, serve on juries, and pay taxes just like everyone else. And yet, they don’t even have a vote in Congress,” Clinton wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Informer, an African American weekly newspaper.Full Article: Clinton vows to be D.C. statehood ‘champion,’ blasts Trump for lack of position on voting rights - The Washington Post.
District Officials will in the coming months spend a lot of time and energy on a quest that even they realize is the longest of long shots: D.C. statehood. That doesn’t mean they are wrong to undertake the effort. It is important to keep reminding the American public and its leaders about the unjust treatment of people who live in the nation’s capital. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has announced a new front in the District’s long-running fight for equal rights. She proposed a three-part process that would allow the District to directly petition Congress for admission as a state. Statehood would give the District voting representation in the House and Senate as well as legislative and budget autonomy. The petition would be preceded by a November referendum and, if city voters favored statehood, a convention to draft and ratify a constitution. The new state would exclude a small federal enclave, thus making a constitutional amendment unnecessary.Full Article: ‘Fair is fair’: A sensible path for D.C. statehood - The Washington Post.
District of Columbia: Kasich on D.C. voting rights: ‘That’s just more votes in the Democratic Party.’ | The Washington Post
When asked his position on D.C. voting rights, Republican presidential contender John Kasich didn’t pretend to draw on any constitutional clause or existing law to explain his stance against it. Instead, the Ohio governor stated the political reason that many already perceive as the biggest obstacle standing between D.C. and congressional voting representation: Giving D.C. voting representatives in Congress would mean more Democrats in Congress. “What it really gets down to if you want to be honest is because they know that’s just more votes in the Democratic Party,” Kasich said Wednesday during an interview with The Washington Post editorial board.Full Article: Kasich on D.C. voting rights: ‘That’s just more votes in the Democratic Party.’ - The Washington Post.
District of Columbia: Mayor calls for citywide vote to make nation’s capital the 51st state | The Washington Post
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser on Friday called for a citywide vote in November on making the nation’s capital the 51st state, resurrecting a decades-old plan to thrust the issue before Congress and raise awareness across the country about District residents’ lack of full citizenship. “I propose we take another bold step toward democracy in the District of Columbia,” Bowser (D) said at a breakfast attracting hundreds of city residents, Democratic members of Congress and civil rights leaders marking the 154th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves in the nation’s capital. “It’s going to require that we send a bold message to the Congress and the rest of the country that we demand not only a vote in the House of Representatives,” she said. “We demand two senators — the full rights of citizenship in this great nation.” The mayor’s announcement appeared poised to ratchet up tension between the District’s Democratic majority and its federal overseers in a Republican-controlled Congress.Full Article: D.C. mayor calls for citywide vote to make nation’s capital the 51st state - The Washington Post.
“Let them have gun laws! Let them have weed! Let them decide the things that they need!” You may remember those lyrics from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on D.C. statehood that broadcast in early August. The HBO host brought national attention to an issue that has plagued District residents for centuries: Without full voting representation in Congress, D.C. denizens are largely powerless to advocate for their interests at the federal level. Oliver was able to tap into residents’ frustration over the status quo by appealing to civil rights, and in part thanks to social media; local merriment and momentum ensued. Almost three months later, a campaign spearheaded by At-Large D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange seeking to highlight the issue of D.C. statehood on the national stage may be gaining traction. Called “Statehood or Else,” it proposes to collect one million signatures on a petition that would be delivered to the president, all 535 members of Congress, and party leaders at the Democratic and Republican conventions being held next July in Philadelphia and Cleveland, respectively. The Council’s Committee of the Whole held a public hearing on the measure this morning, during which a few witnesses questioned the outward presentation of the campaign and found an opportunity to call for greater funding for D.C.’s congressional delegation. Still, most speakers present testified that they supported it.Full Article: What Exactly Does ‘Statehood or Else’ Mean? - City Desk.
The New York Times recently reported on comments by Hillary Clinton in Puerto Rico about the territory’s status in presidential elections:
But she also has an eye on the general election. Puerto Ricans are increasingly moving to Central Florida, where they are a key voting bloc in the swing state. In the past two elections, they have turned out in large numbers, helping hand President Obama his two victories in Florida. And she hinted at as much as she closed her remarks in Puerto Rico. “It always struck me as so indefensible that you can’t vote for president if you live here,” she said with a slight smile. “But if you move to Florida — which, of course, I’m just naming a state — you can vote for president.”Full Article: Puerto Rico and Electoral College reform — Excess of Democracy.
Revelers arrived in cars sporting the American flag and wore clothes in red, white and blue as they celebrated the anniversary of Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood political party with deafening salsa music and speeches. Like many others worried about the U.S. territory’s future, those rallying Thursday night in the coastal town of Manati believe statehood can help pull it out of a nearly a decade of economic stagnation. “Puerto Rico has to become a state,” insisted 63-year-old celebrant Norma Candelario. With unemployment at 12 percent, and the public debt reaching $72 billion, advocates for making the Caribbean island the 51st state say the economic woes are strengthening their arguments. As a state, Puerto Rico’s municipalities and public utilities would no longer be prohibited from restructuring their debts through bankruptcy. It would also receive more of certain kinds of federal funding that other states get.Full Article: Puerto Rico statehood backers see opportunity as woes deepen | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Though the debt crisis in Greece is eating up most of the media oxygen, a somewhat similar crisis is happening in Puerto Rico. They’ve got way too much debt, and have been struggling badly since the 2008 financial crisis. The situation has reached a breaking point, and Governor Alejandro Padilla has flatly admitted the island colony cannot pay in full. Though it is an unlikely prospect, this is an area where the United States government can do some good. By proposing a referendum on statehood, and assisting with an orderly debt write-down, America can atone for past sins and put Puerto Rico back on an upward trajectory. The roots of the crisis are explained well in a piece by Matt Yglesias. For a number of years Puerto Rico had some odd tax advantages that allowed it to borrow extremely cheaply, and so it did, running up a debt vastly larger than any other American state. In 2006 the tax advantages were finally phased out, which made it particularly badly positioned to deal with the financial crisis only two years later. Now with the economy in deep trouble, the government is running short of cash, its citizens are emigrating for the mainland, and it will basically have to default.Full Article: Want to save Puerto Rico? Make it a U.S. state..
Despite the uphill battle for District of Columbia statehood, Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., has reintroduced a statehood bill noting that the District’s unique political status is contrary to the American values celebrated on Independence Day. “These Americans serve in our military, die defending our country, serve on our juries, and pay federal taxes,” Carper said of District residents in a statement. “Yet, despite their civic contributions, they are not afforded a vote in either chamber of Congress. This situation is simply not fair, and it isn’t consistent with the values we celebrate as a country on July 4th every year.”Full Article: DC Statehood Bill a 'Take That' to Republicans.
For the first time since the Republican Party took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, Congress will hold a hearing on Puerto Rico’s status. Wednesday’s hearing, featuring witnesses representing all of Puerto Rico’s political parties, has been scheduled by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the head of a House Natural Resources subcommittee. It has with authority over the five U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. In addition to considering the island’s identity as a geo-political unit, the hearing will also focus on Puerto Rico’s severe economic problems. Young has long favored granting statehood to Puerto Rico and cosponsored legislation proposed by Resident Commisioner Pedro Pierluisi that would require a vote on the island within one year on the statehood question.Full Article: Congress tackles issue of Puerto Rico’s status | The CT Mirror.
The Guam legislature passed a law that allowed only “native inhabitants of Guam” to vote in an upcoming plebiscite concerning Guam’s political relationship with the United States. The plebiscite would ask native inhabitants to vote on whether Guam should seek statehood, independence, or a continued “association” with the United States. Arnold Davis is a resident of Guam, but was unable to register for the plebiscite because he was not a native inhabitant. Davis challenged the law as unconstitutional under the Fifth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The catch with this case was that the plebiscite would only occur once 70% of eligible native inhabitants registered to vote in it, and, in all likelihood, this 70% figure would never be reached. Thus,Guam argued that the case was not ripe and that Davis did not have standing to challenge the law because he could not show how he was being injured.Full Article: Challenge to Guam's race-based plebiscite will go forward - PLF Liberty Blog.
For a small Caribbean island barely half the size of Connecticut, Puerto Rico seems to be assuming outsized importance in the race for the White House. A flying visit this week from the former Florida governor Jeb Bush – who appears ever closer to announcing his intention to seek the Republican presidential nomination – placed the US territory and its electorate of 2.4 million at the heart of his push to win back Hispanic voters. Bush, who speaks Spanish fluently and who has a Mexican wife, told supporters at public appearances in San Juan and Bayamón about the party’s need to reconnect with the Latino vote.Full Article: Puerto Rico seizes on 2016 election to push its case with candidates | World news | The Guardian.
Editorials: In the fight for Puerto Rican statehood, is San Juan the new Selma? | Julio Ricardo Varela/Quartz
Leave it to a British comic to school us all on the least talked-about race problem in America—well, except the millions of Americans living in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. John Oliver’s recent viral video about the Insular Cases, and their role in this country’s ugly racial past entertained and shocked a lot of Americans, just hours after President Obama told a crowd gathered in Selma that “our work is never done.” Oliver’s wit, framed around Obama’s words, created a perfect storm of discovery. Though, you would think, in 2015, this wouldn’t seem so surprising—yes, the American government was blatantly racist toward peoples conquered as spoils of war. But anyone from non-state territories like the US Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or Puerto Rico—especially, Puerto Rico—could have told you that. The problem was no one was really listening until Oliver gave the Insular Cases comedic street cred.Full Article: In the fight for Puerto Rican statehood, is San Juan the new Selma? - Quartz.
A group of conservative lawmakers from east of the Cascades wants a task force to provide recommendations on how to divide Washington into two separate states. House Bill 1818 would create a task force “to determine the impacts” of dividing the state in two along the Cascade range. The bill cites heightened differences of “cultural and economic values” as the reason for exploring the split. The task force would consist of 10 members from different caucuses in the House and Senate and from the Governor’s Office. It would have to report its findings to the Legislature by the end of September this year, according to the bill.Full Article: Yakima Herald Republic |.
The sounds of artillery fire boomed from the northwest suburbs of Donetsk, but in the glittering foyer of what was once a downtown conference center, camouflage-clad militants toting Kalashnikovs sat in leather armchairs, paying no heed to the noise. They were keeping guard over those engaged in the important work upstairs: In the luxurious penthouse, trapped in stifling heat but cut off from the sound of shelling, Roman Lyagin worked to turn a fantasy republic into reality. Lyagin, as head of the Central Election Committee of this unrecognized nation, is writing the rules that will govern the first parliamentary elections of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, scheduled for Nov. 2. “I and some like-minded people are making a new state,” he said. “We are building the state of our dreams.”Full Article: Eastern Ukraine's Fake State Is About to Elect a Fake Prime Minister.
“No taxation without representation” has been a cliché of American politics almost since the nation’s founding, but for citizens of Washington, D.C., those words have been anything but a guarantee. Last week, a Senate committee held a hearing on the unlikely possibility of D.C. statehood. In attendance were Senators Thomas Carper, a Delaware Democrat, and Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, Mayor Vincent Gray, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the district’s non-voting delegate for the House of Representatives. Along with nine panelists, they were there to discuss the New Columbia Admission Act, a bill that would incorporate the lion’s share of D.C. as the 51st state in the Union, preserve a federal enclave of monuments and buildings within the new state, and grant the district’s nearly 650,000 residents full representation in Congress. Currently, citizens of the nation’s capital are denied voting equality at the congressional level and significant autonomy locally. This set-up makes D.C. an anomaly among American municipalities and arguably relegates its residents to second-class citizens. “In the 21st century, Congress simply cannot ask our residents to continue to be voyeurs of democracy, as Congress votes on matters that affect them—how much in federal taxes they must pay, whether their sons and daughters will go to war, and even their local budget and laws—without the vote in the House and Senate required for consent of the governed.” Norton said in a prepared statement.Full Article: Is D.C. Statehood a Matter of Civil Rights? - The Atlantic.
Editorials: Critics of D.C. statehood cite specious objections, such as Grave Snowplow Threat | Robert McCartney/The Washington Post
Why shouldn’t the District become a state? Opponents at Monday’s U.S. Senate hearing cited the grave threat that the city might gain full authority over its snowplows. You read that right. According to this objection, a self-governing District might intimidate Congress through its control of basic services for Capitol Hill. Statehood “would make the federal government dependent on an independent state, New Columbia, for everything from electrical power to water, sewers, snow removal, police and fire protection,” Roger Pilon, a constitutional scholar for the libertarian Cato Institute, testified. In Pilon’s defense, his argument is rooted in James Madison’s long-ago desire to prevent any individual state from unduly influencing Congress. But that concern is completely outdated.Full Article: Critics of D.C. statehood cite specious objections, such as Grave Snowplow Threat. - The Washington Post.
District of Columbia: D.C.’s statehood movement gets an inch, takes a proverbial mile on Capitol Hill | The Washington Post
Along the walk underground from the Capitol to the Dirksen Senate Building, you traverse a long, soulless hallway with a mini train track. As the path curves around, a flag of each state hangs with a corresponding circular crest. Each state’s flag hangs in the order of its admission to the United States. Ten feet separate the flags from one another along the corridor where staffers and lawmakers shuffle between buildings. Imagine a proletariat’s version of the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States. It was in the Dirksen building that Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) held a hearing to discuss a bill granting D.C. statehood. A small step, yes, but an important one in the grind against disenfranchisement. It wasn’t much, but those who spoke for the city did so with aplomb. The case against statehood has never looked so ridiculous. The basic underpinnings of the cause to keep D.C. from statehood are rooted in nothing but privilege and tradition, not logic. And ranking member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) proved exactly that with his cavalier attitude toward the proceedings, snarky dismissal of the city’s chances of making it through the system, and early departure from the hearing. His approach screamed: “I don’t care because I don’t have to.”Full Article: D.C.’s statehood movement gets an inch, takes a proverbial mile on Capitol Hill - The Washington Post.
D.C. residents and city lawmakers packed a Senate hearing Monday for their first chance in two decades to make the case that the nation’s capital should be the 51st state. They came prepared with statistics: $4 billion in federal income taxes are paid annually by city residents. They came with constitutional theories: D.C. residents are unfairly “subjugated” without a voting member of Congress. And they came with stacks of testimony often built around one word to describe the District’s condition. When it comes to full democracy, the rights of D.C. residents are “denied,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D). From the dais, however, there wasn’t much interest. Only two senators attended the first hearing on D.C. statehood in almost 21 years. Those two were Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), who introduced the bill, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who called the whole exercise a waste of time. Coburn then promptly left after little more than a half hour. Carper’s exact reasoning for calling the unusual hearing — and on a day that many members of his committee remained in their districts — remained unclear.Full Article: Congress takes up bill to make D.C. the 51st state - The Washington Post.
District of Columbia: D.C. statehood bill unlikely to advance beyond Senate panel’s hearing | The Washington Post
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.Full Article: D.C. statehood bill unlikely to advance beyond Senate panel’s hearing - The Washington Post.