Call McConnell's Bluff on DC Statehood
by Jonathan Singer, Thu May 03, 2007 at 09:00:54 AM EDT
As legislation to grant the District of Columbia voting rights in the House of Representatives moves on to the Senate, Republicans opposed to the measure have brought up a potential smokescreen: Instead of passing this legislation, there should be a move to enact a constitutional amendment granting the District statehood. The Hill's Kelly McCormack has the details.
But the bill's fate remains uncertain, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has hinted that there could be a filibuster on the bill. He said that he would support a constitutional amendment for statehood instead.
"This measure, if it is worth pursuing, ought to be pursued in a legal and appropriate way," McConnell said in a press conference yesterday. "And amending the Constitution is clear[ly] and unambiguously the way to do it."
It is certainly possible that McConnell is sincere in his desire for DC to attain status as a state. I'm skeptical that this is the case given that DC, which might be known as New Columbia as a state, would almost certainly send two Democrats to the Senate, potentially changing the balance of power in the chamber to make it significantly more difficult for Republicans to regain their majority. More likely, it seems to me that McConnell is holding out the potential for an amendment because it would take more votes and a greater effort than simply passing a bill through Congress.
But it is not necessarily my intention to impugn the motives of the Senate Republican Leader in this post. Instead, I'd like to take McConnell at his word. To show that he is true to his word, McConnell should immediately introduce an amendment granting DC statehood. What's more, given that McConnell would be the lead sposor and key supporter of this amendment, it would be incumbent upon him to strenuously whip his caucus to help find the votes necessary to make the change to the constitution. And even more, given that McConnell has more than $4.3 million on hand as of the end of the first quarter and his personal net worth is valued at somewhere between about $1.8 million and $4.1 million, he should commit to invest a significant amount of money -- certainly in excess of one million dollars, either from campaign or personal funds, or some combination therein -- to fund an effort to push a sufficient number of states to ratify such an amendment.
Now will McConnell actually follow through? It remains to be seen -- but I'm not holding my breath. But for more on the effort to enfranchise those who live in the District, check out FreeAndEqualDC.com, as well as the Congresspedia entry on voting rights in the District.
Update [2007-5-3 14:20:48 by Jonathan Singer]: Perhaps -- perhaps -- I'm being unfair about bringing up McConnell's personal finances. But the fact that he has a huge campaign chest still does make it possible for his to fund a robust effort backing ratification.