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Melania Trump may be having a bad day after her Republican National Convention
plagiarism performance last night, but if party leaders gathered in Cleveland get their way, the District could end up being one of the biggest losers of a Donald Trump presidency.
In the official Grand Old Party platform released Monday, Republicans essentially say “nice try” to current efforts of D.C. leaders to gain statehood. Entry into the Union “can be advanced only by a constitutional amendment,” the document reads. “Any other approach would be invalid.” Republicans point out that a statehood amendment was “soundly rejected by the states” in 1976 and “should not be revived.”
Ironically enough, in their party platform that year, Republicans viewed the governance of the District and Puerto Rico through the lens of “self-determination.” “[We] support giving the District of Columbia voting representation in the United States Senate and House of Representatives and full home rule over those matters that are purely local,” the GOP pronounced at its 1976 convention in Kansas City.
Fast-forward to today and the majority party on the Hill is seeking to repeal D.C. budget autonomy, which locals overwhelming approved in a 2013 budget referendum. Last month, the House of Representatives assented to an appropriations bill with anti-home rule language.
Mayor Muriel Bowser traveled to Ohio on Tuesday to plug for statehood. Her visit featured some fiscally tailored messaging—and M&Ms:
But in the 2016 party platform, Republicans take aim at Bowser and her peers on the D.C. Council over their fight for budget autonomy. “That council, backed by the current mayor, is attempting to seize from the Congress its appropriating power over all funding for the District,” it reads. “The illegality of their action mirrors the unacceptable spike in violent crime and murders currently afflicting the city.”
“We expect Congress to assert, by whatever means necessary, its constitutional prerogatives regarding the District,” the document adds.
(The platform also takes a potshot at D.C.’s purported “chronic corruption among the city’s top Democratic officials,” calling for Congress to guarantee “minority”—that is, Republican—representation on the Council. There are no Republicans on the sitting District legislature.)
Meanwhile, Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, could present a few wrinkles for Republicans’ articulated position on D.C. When asked about statehood by NBC’s Chuck Todd in August, Trump responded that he supported “whatever’s best” for residents. (Ultimately, he backpedaled during the interview, claiming that his future hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion meant he had “a conflict of interest.”) Then, in March, Trump told the Post‘s editorial board that he didn’t have a view on the matter. “I think it’s a tough thing,” he said, conceding that he would be “okay” with D.C. having a vote in Congress. Pence has described the District’s lack of it as “a historic wrong.”
Read the D.C. section of the Republican Party’s 2016 principals below:
Preserving the District of Columbia
The nation’s capital city is a special responsibility of the federal government because it belongs both to its residents and to all Americans, millions of whom visit it every year. Congressional Republicans have fostered homeownership and open access to higher education for Washington residents. Against the opposition of the current President and leaders of the Democratic Party, they have established and expanded the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, through which thousands of low-income children have been able to attend a school of their choice and receive a quality education.
Republicans have been in the forefront of combating chronic corruption among the city’s top Democratic officials. We call for congressional action to enforce the spirit of the Home Rule Act, assuring minority representation on the City Council. That council, backed by the current mayor, is attempting to seize from the Congress its appropriating power over all funding for the District. The illegality of their action mirrors the unacceptable spike in violent crime and murders currently afflicting the city. We expect Congress to assert, by whatever means necessary, its constitutional prerogatives regarding the District.
Since the Supreme Court’s decisions affirming the Second Amendment rights of its citizens, city officials have engaged in a campaign of massive resistance by denying virtually all applications for gun ownership. The Republican Congress should be prepared, upon the inauguration of a Republican president, to enact legislation allowing law-abiding Washingtonians to own and carry firearms.
Statehood for the District can be advanced only by a constitutional amendment. Any other approach would be invalid. A statehood amendment was soundly rejected by the states when last proposed in 1976 and should not be revived.