Washington D.C. is not in any state at all – instead, it is a federal district. It was carved from the states of Virginia and Maryland in 1790. As such, it has no voting representation in the Senate. While it is not a state, it still has state organs such as the State Board of Education and the State Board of Elections.
The District of Columbia occupies an area of 68 square miles and is home to over half a million people. The high population translates to an equally-high population density of over 11,300 persons per square mile. However, the population balloons in the daytime as people residing in the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland commute to Washington to work. As the nation’s capital, D.C. is home to a large number of government offices which include the White House and the US Capitol. Unlike other cities in the United States, Washington has no true skyscrapers.
History of Washington D.C.
President George Washington, after whom the city is named, is credited for the establishment of the city. The founding fathers agreed that there was a need for the capital city to be under the direct control of the federal government instead of having semi-autonomy as a state. The states of Virginia and Maryland donated the area from which the capital city was established. President Washington was responsible for the choice of the exact location of the city, which he specified to be on the Potomac River. The city officially became under the direct control of the federal government after the adoption of the Organic Act of 1801. The Act also effectively ended voting representation of residents of D.C. who were originally represented in Senate either as Maryland or Virginia residents.
Governance and Representation
As it is not a state, the District of Columbia has no representation in the US Senate. The District has one representative at the House of Representatives, but the delegate has no authority to vote on the floor of the House. The delegate is, however, allowed to introduce bills and participate during debates. Many residents see the lack of representation of Washington D.C. as unjust since the residents are still subjected to federal taxation. Nonetheless, Washington D.C. residents can vote during Presidential elections, with the District having a long history of supporting Democratic presidential candidates.
Possible Scenarios of Statehood
Studies have shown that majority of D.C. residents (as much as 82% of the population) would prefer to have voting representation in the US Senate. A formal process has never been initiated that would result in Washington D.C. having voting representation in the Senate. However, there are a few ideas that have been fronted as a solution to the issue. The first approach is making D.C. the United States’ 51st State. Another approach is retroceding D.C. back to the state of Maryland so that residents can be represented under Maryland. There have also been opponents who feel that Washington D.C. should remain without voting representation, claiming that it would be unfair for a city to have a representative in Senate who would almost certainly vote for Democratic policies. Opponents also claim that granting statehood to D.C. would go against the independence of the national capital.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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