Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has come out against legislation that would turn Washington, D.C., into the United States’ 51st state.
“If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment … and let the people of America vote,” Manchin stated in a Friday interview with MetroNews.
Manchin is the first Democrat senator to publicly express opposition to the bill. Every Republican senator is against it.
As Politico noted:
In the radio interview, he said that he had since taken a “deep dive” with his staff, looking at conclusions reached by the Justice Department under the Carter and Reagan administrations, as well as comments from then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy. They all determined that D.C. statehood would require a constitutional amendment, he said. Manchin cited the 23rd Amendment — which granted D.C. residents the right to vote, as well as Electoral College votes — as something that complicates the path to statehood.
“Every legal scholar has told us that. So, why not do it the right way and let the people vote to see if they want to change?” the West Virginia Democrat asked.
On Thursday, the House voted along party lines — 216 to 208 — to make D.C. into a state.
“Congress has both the moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass H.R. 51,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, (D-D.C.) proclaimed in a floor speech ahead of the vote.
“This country was founded on the principles of no taxation without representation and consent of the governed, but D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot consent to the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live,” she added.
Republican opponents of the bill, such as Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), have argued that the push for D.C. statehood is “clearly unconstitutional” and part of a “grand plan” by Democrats to “make it hard for Republicans to ever win again.”
“Well, Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution says this is clearly unconstitutional. The Constitution says that we will set aside a district that will be the seat of our government. The Democrats know this, but this is all a part of their grand play,” Banks recently told Fox News.
“[I]f Democrats in the Senate succeed in changing the rules in the Senate and doing away with the Byrd rule and filibuster rules, we should pray that D.C. statehood is something that never makes it across the finish line,” the lawmaker added.