A bill to make the Washington, Douglass Commonwealth the 51st state passed the house on Friday. The bill, carried through the chamber with a 232-180 vote, is unlikely to survive the Republican controlled Senate.
The bill would change the name of Washington, District of Columbia to Washington, Douglass Commonwealth in a nod to Maryland-born Frederick Douglass as a counterweight to Virginia-born George Washington. The legislation would shrink the area under federal control to an area encompassing the White House, U.S. Capitol building, the National Mall, and other federal buildings and monuments.
While granting overdue representation to over 700,000 citizens, the effort appears to be exclusively a political move to smear Republicans as racist in denying representation to an area with a diverse population. In reality, if the move would grant two new Senators and additional voting representatives to Republicans, Democrats would staunchly oppose the effort. With the known opposition due to the partisan gridlock, introducing the bill in an election year, its safe to say the move is entirely a political chess-move.
Democratic efforts to pin any failure on race is evident by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) statement that “race underlies every argument against D.C. statehood.” President Trump highlighted the partisan issue actually at play with his response, “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic Senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.” In reality, Washington would only have one additional representative, but the statement highlights legitimate political math at play.