GOP lawmaker: Allow D.C. residents to vote in Maryland instead of making D.C. a state

Rep. Jody Hice's amendment to allow D.C. residents to vote in the state of Maryland was shot down by the Democrat majority in the House Oversight Committee

Updated: April 15, 2021 - 7:52am

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Georgia Republican Rep. Jody Hice said on Wednesday that Congress should consider allowing residents of Washington D.C. to vote in Maryland as opposed to making D.C. its own state. 

Hice said this move would resolve "taxation without representation," which supporters of D.C. statehood argue is unfair. Hice proposed the idea as an amendment during the House Oversight Committee markup of the statehood bill on Wednesday. 

"If the real issue is allowing District residents to vote, then let's get back to the way it was in the founding era, and let them vote as citizens of Maryland," he said.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin said exploring the idea of providing D.C. residents the ability to vote in the state of Maryland would be going off on a "tangent."

"It's not what the people of Washington, D.C. asked for, and it's not what they deserve," he said. "They are a coherent political community." 

North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx argued that making D.C. a state is unconstitutional. 

"They want to undo totally what the founders set up," she said. "The founders set the District of Columbia up not to be a state as the other states, that was the whole idea. Now, you want to undo that. We want to keep things as the founders set them. The District of Columbia is the District of Columbia. It is not a state."

Foxx said Hice's amendment was a "common sense solution if there's this burning desire, as there seems to be, to vote, then you can do it with the state of Maryland."

According to the National Constitutional Center, Hawaii was the last state the U.S. admitted to the union. Congress passed it as a bill, and the president signed it into law. 

Raskin said the D.C. statehood bill would repeal the 23rd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and redraw the existing boundaries of Washington D.C. The new D.C. boundaries in the bill would make one part the U.S. capital city and the other part a state. Raskin argued that Congress has the authority to alter the existing boundaries and declare the rest of the land a new state with two U.S. senators and a representative in the House. The current mayor would become governor. 

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting member of the House from the District, said she does not think Maryland would allow D.C. residents to vote in Maryland because it ceded land to D.C. a long time ago.

In response, Foxx said Maryland gave the land to the United States of America to form D.C. 

"What's lost here is the original purpose," she said. "What we're trying to do is maintain the original purpose."

Georgia Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde argued that "it's very obvious" Democrats are pushing for statehood so they can gain two U.S. senators, which would "then tip the balance of the Senate on behalf of the Democrats."

Clyde said Virginia "wanted its land back [from D.C.] and got it, so if Virginia got it back, then Maryland certainly could do it."

Before the voice vote on Hice's amendment, Democratic committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York urged members to vote against it.

"In the opinion of the chair, the noes have it," she said. 

Hice requested a recorded vote, but Maloney said "proceedings on the amendment are postponed." 

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Fred Keller said it's not clear which expenses the federal government will have to pay for if D.C. became a "micro-state" under the statehood bill.

Keller's amendment would have required that the federal government not contribute to payment of any D.C. government expenses going forward if it became a state. Maloney urged committee members to vote against the amendment, and it was not approved. 

"The Constitution itself does not set out prerequisites for statehood admission except for in article 4, section 4, where it says the United States will guarantee a Republican form of government to the people of the state," Raskin said.