The question of statehood for Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico isn’t a new issue, but advocates have hope that with Democrats in control of the federal government now is the time to get it done. Attempts have been made in the past to bring this to the forefront of national attention and get a vote in Congress, but so far the efforts have been unsuccessful.
Advocates have been hard at work over the last several years on a national marketing campaign and it seems to be paying off. In July 2020, former president Barack Obama endorsed D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood. With an uncertain future after the 2022 midterms, Democrats feel that now is the time to get this done, even without bipartisan support.
Here are the arguments on both sides. For the 3.2 million residents of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated U.S. territory, and around 700,000 Washington, D.C. residents, it’s a matter of representation. Without statehood status, these millions of Americans don’t have representation in Congress, yet they still pay federal taxes. The tagline on D.C. license plates famously reads: “Taxation without representation.”
On the other hand, opponents see the push for statehood as a thinly veiled attempt to grab more power in Congress, especially with a slim and uncertain Democrat majority in the House and a 50-50 Senate. The political makeup of D.C. and Puerto Rico would almost certainly mean their seats would be filled by Democrats. So accomplishing statehood for one or both of these territories would give Democrats an edge heading into the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential elections.
Opponents argue that if D.C. were admitted as the 51st state, it would be the smallest state by area, with the third lowest population, but the highest median household income, and that would give its residents unprecedented influence over the federal government. They say that one solution could be to return the district other than the immediate area surrounding the Capitol, White House and Supreme Court back to Maryland and Virginia. And that any other solution would open the door for major cities like New York or Houston to argue for their own statehood status to provide them with more “direct representation” and could be used as an increasingly dangerous political tool.
Traders on the “stock market for politics” site, PredictIt, have had the opportunity to weigh in on what they think the chances are for D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood by the end of 2021. Neither market looks promising.
Check more information about the 2022 midterms predictions go to predictit.org