The Senate’s impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump featured strong evidence from many voices about Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. But voices from the place that was most affected, Washington, D.C., were missing. Nearly 140 D.C. and Capitol police officers were injured in the riot, and it caused a District-wide curfew for all residents. But the people who live in Washington, D.C. have no senators who could vote in the impeachment trial.
Thankfully, Delaware’s own Sen. Tom Carper has reintroduced a bill that would finally bring equality to the residents of Washington, D.C. by granting them statehood. Sen. Chris Coons, and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester are fully on board as co-sponsors. They should prioritize this bill and work to get it passed in both chambers within the first 100 days of President Joe Biden’s term. Carper first introduced this bill 2013. It is long overdue.
Several years ago, I was surprised to learn that citizens in Washington, D.C. do not have the same rights or representation in our government as the rest of us in the 50 states. D.C. residents are among those who defend, clean, and pay for the Capitol, but they do not have any say in the bills debated there. In other words, there is taxation without representation.
Congress considered ending this injustice in the late 1800s, but white supremacist senators spoke against those efforts because they said D.C. had too many Black residents to be trusted with voting rights. D.C.’s population is 46% Black today, a higher share than any state. Christian Cooper, the writer and birder, described D.C.’s lack of statehood as “part of a long history of African American disenfranchisement.” The result is that Washington, D.C.’s 712,000 residents cannot fully participate in our longstanding democracy.