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September 3, 2015

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Reid says Washington, D.C., deserves to become a state

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Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already presides over a body of 100 senators. But he wouldn’t mind if two more join the fold.

At a dedication ceremony for a statue of civil rights leader Frederick Douglas, the first District of Columbian to in the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, Reid said he thought it was high time the District of Columbia be recognized as a state.

“Washington, D.C., residents pay taxes just like residents of Nevada, California or any other state,” Reid said. “The District deserves statehood, and Congress should act to grant it.”

Presently, the District of Columbia is a U.S. territory, a designation that gives residents electoral votes but no representatives to Congress. It has one delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who cannot vote, and elects “shadow senators” to lobby Congress on statehood.

If designated a state, Washington, D.C., would be the smallest state in the Union by area but not by population. It is larger than Wyoming and Vermont.

It is not, however, the largest U.S. territory. That designation goes to Puerto Rico, which voted in favor of a referendum to make Puerto Rico a state in the November 2012 election.

Recently, Puerto Rico’s non-voting delegate to Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, threatened to take Puerto Rico’s statehood case to the United Nations, if the Obama administration doesn’t take steps to advance Puerto Rican statehood.

There are bills in the House and the Senate to designate D.C. as the state of “New Columbia,” but Reid hasn’t indicated when one might come up for a vote.

The last time the Senate voted on D.C. statehood, in 2009, it approved the notion by a vote of 61 to 37. Reid voted in favor of D.C. statehood; then-Nevada Sen. John Ensign voted against it.

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