Should Washington, D.C., Become a State?

AuthorShuff, Bo

Last September, for the first time in 26 years, the House of Representatives held a hearing on legislation that would make the District of Columbia a state. More than 200 Democrats have co-sponsored the bill, but Republicans are united in their opposition to the idea.

A representative of a group that advocates for D.C. to have a vote in Congress and a conservative scholar square off about whether the nation's capital should become a state.

Key Facts


Date Founded

July 16, 1790

The District of Columbia was established by the U.S. Constitution to serve as the capital of the new federal government. Before that, Philadelphia was the nation's capital, but some pro-slavery states objected to having the capital in a northern city where it might be influenced by abolitionists. The federal government didn't move to D.C. until 1800.

Current Population


Amount D.C. Residents Paid in Taxes in 2018

$25.3 billion



The rallying cry of the American Revolution was that "taxation without representation" was tyranny. More than 240 years later, that tyranny still exists for the residents of Washington, D.C.

More than 700,000 people live in Washington, D.C. That's more people than live in the entire states of Wyoming or Vermont. D.C. residents pay more in federal taxes than 22 states. Since World War I, more than 200,000 D.C. residents have served in the U.S. military, and thousands have died in combat.

Despite all that, D.C. does not have any voting representation in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. (The District does have one non-voting delegate in the House.) Even worse, Congress can tell the locally elected District government what laws it can pass and how it can spend its locally raised money. This situation is grossly unfair.

The solution to this problem is to make Washington, D.C., a state.

The present plan for how to make D.C. a state would simply tighten the boundaries of the "federal district," as we've done before. (Arlington County, which is now part of Virginia, was part of D.C. until 1846.) The parts of D.C. that should belong to all Americans--including the Capitol, major monuments, the White House, and the Supreme Court--would remain in an area controlled by Congress that belongs to everyone. This would satisfy the constitutional requirement that the federal government operate in a federal district that's...

To continue reading

Request your trial