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|Timeline - 217 Years of the District of Columbia's Efforts to Restore Self-Government|
Timeline – 217 Years of the District of Columbia's Efforts to Restore Self-Government
The residents of what is now the District of Columbia lost their full democratic rights to self-government and a government of, by and for the people over 200 years ago. Ever since then, they have been demanding that Congress restore the full rights of American citizenship.
1788 The General Assembly of the State of Maryland authorizes the cession of territory for the seat of government of the United States, "acknowledged to be forever ceded and relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United States, and full and absolute right and exclusive jurisdiction, as well of soil as of persons residing or to reside thereon, pursuant to the tenor and effect of the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution... And provided also, That the jurisdiction of the laws of this State over the persons and property of individuals residing within the limits of the cession aforesaid shall not cease or determine until Congress shall, by law, provide for the government thereof, under their jurisdiction, in manner provided by the article of the Constitution before recited." The Maryland Assembly passes supplementary acts of cession in 1792 and 1793 regarding the validity of deeds and sale of property in the new capital.
1789 The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia authorizes the cession of territory for the permanent seat of the General Government as Congress might by law direct and that the same "was thereby forever ceded and relinquished to the Congress and Government of the United States, in full and absolute right, and exclusive jurisdiction...." Like Maryland, Virginia's act of cession provides that Virginia law shall continue to apply until Congress, "having accepted the said cession, shall, by law, provide for the government thereof, under their jurisdiction, in manner provided by the articles of the Constitution before recited" (District clause).
1790 Congress accepts the territory ceded by the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia to form the Seat of Government of the United States and declares that on the first Monday in December 1800 the Seat of Government of the United States shall be transferred to such district and authorizes the President to appoint three commissioners to survey and purchase land and prepare it for the new government which is to take up residence on the first Monday in December 1800.
1791 President George Washington issues several presidential proclamations defining and fixing the boundaries of the new District.
1790-1800 Qualified residents of the new District of Columbia continue to vote in elections of federal officers conducted in Maryland and Virginia, including Representatives in Congress, even though Maryland and Virginia ceded the land to the Federal government and the District's boundaries had been drawn.
1800 The Seat of Government of the United States is transferred to the new District of Columbia.
1800 In December, during the debates over what would become the Organic Act of 1801, Rep. John Smilie (PA – Republican) declares: “Not a man in the District would be represented in the government, whereas every man who contributed to the support of a government ought to be represented in it; otherwise his natural rights were subverted and he was left not a citizen but a subject. This was one righ the bill deprived these people of, and he had always been taught to believe it was a very serious and important one. It was a right which this country, when under subjection to Great Britain, thought worth making a resolute struggle for, and evinced a determination to perish rather than not enjoy.”
1801 A lame duck Federalist Congress passes the Organic Act of 1801 on Feb. 27, 1801 and divides the District into two counties, the county of Washington (Maryland cession) and the county of Alexandria (Virginia cession). The act creates a circuit court for the District of Columbia, authorizes the appointment of a U.S. Attorney, marshals, justices of the peace, and a register of wills for the District. It also provides that the act shall not "alter, impeach or impair the rights, granted by or derived from the acts of incorporation of Alexandria and Georgetown [incorporated cities in Virginia and Maryland prior to cession]. No longer in a state, D.C. residents lose their state and national representation (Senators were then elected by state legislatures) and their local self-determination to the extent they do not live in the two incorporated cities.
1801 A.B. Woodward publishes a pamphlet proclaiming: “This body of people is as much entitled to the enjoyment of the rights of citizenship as any other part of the people of the United States. There can exist no necessity for their disenfranchisement, no necessity for them to repose on the mere generosity of their countrymen to be protected from tyranny; to mere spontaneous attention for the regulation of their interests. They are entitled to a participation in the general councils on the principles equity and reciprocity.”
1802 Congress abolishes the board of commissioners and incorporates the City of Washington (formerly in the County of Washington) with a presidentially appointed mayor and a popularly elected council of 12 members with two chambers, one with seven members and the second with five members, the second chamber to be chosen by all the members elected. All acts of the council must be sent to the Mayor for his approval. Suffrage is limited to "free, white male inhabitants of full age, who have resided twelve months in the city and paid taxes therein the year preceding the election's being held."
1803 Because of the “unrepublican” condition of the District, Congress considers retrocession of the District back to Maryland. Discussing the resolution in February, Rep. John Randolph, Jr. (VA- Democratic-Republican) declared “I could wish, indeed, to see the people within this District restored to their rights. This species of government is an experiment how far freemen can be reconciled to live without rights; an experiment dangerous to the liberties of these states. But inasmuch as it had been already made, inasmuch as I was not accessory to it, and as at some future time its deleterious effects may be arrested, I am disposed to vote against the resolution.”
1803 Rep. John Smilie (PA- Democratic-Republican) countered: “Here, the citizens would be governed by laws, in the making of which they have no voice – by laws not made with their own consent, but by the United States for them – by men who have not the interest in the laws made that legislators ought always to possess – by men also not acquainted with the minute and local interests of the place, coming, as they did, from distances of 500 to 1,000 miles.” He added “You may give them a charter, but of what avail will this be, when Congress may take it away at any moment? They would continue forever to be ultimately governed by a body over whom they had no control.” After much debate, the resolutions on retrocession failed 66 to 26.
1804 Congress extends the 1802 charter 15 years and provides for the direct election of both houses of the Council, each with nine members.
1804-1805 Congress again considers retrocession of all parts of the District except the City of Washington (i.e., Alexandria, Alexandria County, Georgetown and Washington County). Rep. Ebenezer Elmer (NJ- Democratic-Republican) argued that District residents are “as much the vassals of Congress as the troops that garrison your forts, and guard your arsenals. They are subjects, not merely because they are not represented in Congress, but also because they have no rights as freemen secured to them by the Constitution. They have natural rights as men, and moral agents; they may have some civil rights constructively secured to them by the Constitution; but have not one political right defined and guaranteed to them by that instrument, while they continue under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress.” After much debate, Congress again rejected retrocession.
1812 Congress amends the charter of the City of Washington to enlarge the council, now consisting of an elected board of aldermen (8 members) and an elected board of common council (12 members). The Mayor is to be elected by the two boards in a joint meeting. Congress also expands the corporation's taxing authority and authority to develop public institutions, although subject to the approval of the President (including the budget) since the Mayor will no longer be a Presidential appointee.
1812 Congress confers certain powers upon a levy court or board of commissioners for the County of Washington (part of Maryland cession not included in the city of Washington) primarily dealing with taxes for public improvements such as roads and bridges. The board has seven members designated by the President from existing magistrates in the county.
1820 Congress repeals the 1802 and 1804 acts and reorganizes the government of the City of Washington by providing for a popularly elected Mayor. Existing elected council continued.
1820 In Loughborough v. Blake (18 U.S. (5 Wheat) 317 (1820), the Supreme Court held that “the constitution does not consider [District citizens] want of a representative in Congress as exempting it from equal taxation.” This means it IS constitutional to have taxation without representation!
1822 A Committee of Twelve, appointed "pursuant to a resolution of a meeting of the Inhabitants of the City of Washington," requests from Congress a republican form of government and the right to sue and to have federal representation "equal to citizens who live in States. ... The committee confess that they can discover but two modes in which the desired relief can be afforded, either by the establishment of a territorial government, suited to their present condition and population, and restoring them, in every part of the nation to the equal rights enjoyed by the citizens of the other portions of the United States, or by a retrocession to the states of Virginia and Maryland, of the respective parts of the District which were originally ceded by those states to form it." Washington City residents were not interested in retrocession, however.
1824 Led by Stevens Thomson Mason, George Mason’s grandson, Alexandrians mount their first local retrocession movement, but find limited support.
1825 On December 28, a Committee of Thirteen sends a ten-page Memorial to Congress "praying for an amelioration of their civil and political condition" and says that they should be treated at least as well as territories.
1832 Alexandrians, particularly merchants, feeling they were receiving less favorable treatment than District residents on the Maryland side of the Potomac, begin to more seriously push for retrocession. On January 24, elected officials of Alexandria City held an advisory referendum on retrocession that failed 419 against to 310 for it.
1835 The Common Council of Alexandria appointed a committee of Francis l. Smith, Robert Brockett, and Charles T. Stuart “attend to the interests of the Town before Congress.” They presented an 11 page memorandum to the District Committee urging retrocession and saying “that we are a disfranchised people, deprived of all those political rights and privileges, so dear to an American citizen….”
1838 The Maryland Senate creates a select committee on the retrocession of Georgetown to Maryland. Although the committee recommended taking Georgetown back, a vote sponsored by the Board of Common Council of Georgetown revealed that only 139 of 549 Georgetown residents favored retrocession. Congress instructed the Committee on the District of Columbia to re-examine retrocession, but Committee reported on April 11 against it. Various retrocession bills were introduced in Congress from 1838-1841, especially after Congress refused to recharter District banks.
1841 In his inaugural address, President William Henry Harrison says "Amongest the other duties of a delicate character which the President is called upon to perform is the supervision of the government of the Territories of the United States. Those of them which are destined to become members of our great political family are compensated by their rapid progress from infancy to manhood for the partial and temporary deprivation of their political rights. It is in this District only where American citizens are to be found who under a settled policy are deprived of many important political privileges without any inspiring hope as to the future. ... Are there, indeed, citizens of any of our States who have dreamed of their subjects in the District of Columbia? ... The people of the District of Columbia are not the subjects of the people of the States, but free American citizens. Being in the latter condition when the Constitution was formed, no words used in that instrument could have been intended to deprive them of that character."
1846 Congress, the Virginia Legislature and the City of Alexandria approve the retrocession of the county and town of Alexandria (what is now Arlington County and the City of Alexandria) back to Virginia, decreasing the size of D.C. by a third. The referendum on retrocession passes 763 for to 222 against. Residents of Alexandria City approve the retrocession (734 for to 116 against), while residents of Alexandria County, disapprove it (29 for to 106 against).
1848 Congress reorganizes the government of the City of Washington, approving a new charter that allows voters to elect the Board of Assessors, the Register of Wills, the Collector, and the Surveyor. It abolishes the property qualifications for voting and extends voting rights to all white male voters who pay a one dollar yearly school tax.
1850 Congress ends the slave trade in D.C.
1862 On April 16th, "Emancipation Day," nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation is issued, Congress passes the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act abolishing slavery in D.C. and compensating owners of the 3,100 freed slaves, and establishes a school system for African-American residents.
1867 Congress grants the vote to every male person "without any distinction on account of color or race" who is not a pauper or under guardianship, is twenty-one or older, who has not been convicted of any infamous crime and has not voluntarily given "aid and comfort to the rebels in that late rebellion," and who has resided in the District for one year and three months in his ward. African Americans make up 33% of the District's population and wield considerable political power.
1868 D.C.'s Rosa Parks, Kate Brown, an African American employee of the U.S. Senate, took the train to Alexandria and took a seat in the car reserved for white "ladies." When she tried to return in the same car, she was told to leave the car and refused saying " I bought my ticket to go to Washington in this car, and I am going in it; before I leave this car I will suffer death." Railroad staff and security guards dragged her out of the car and so badly beat her that she ended up in the hospital. The Senate Committee on D.C. investigated the matter and she filed a lawsuit against the railroad. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in her favor in 1873 and awarded her $1,500 in damages.
1871 Congress repeals the charters of the cities of Washington and Georgetown and creates the Territory of the District of Columbia. The Territory will have a Presidentially appointed Governor and Secretary to the District, subject to Senate confirmation, a bicameral legislature with a Presidentially appointed upper house and Board of Public Works, both subject to Senate confirmation, and a popularly elected 22 seat House of Delegates, and a nonvoting Delegate to the House of Representatives. Norton P. Chipman is D.C.'s first nonvoting Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Nevertheless, D.C. voters lose the right to elect their Governor and the upper house of their legislature.
1874 Congress removes all elected Territorial officials, including the nonvoting Delegate in Congress, temporarily replaces the Territorial government with three Presidentially appointed commissioners, and places an officer of the Army Corps of Engineers in charge, under the general supervision and direction of the commissioners, of public works in the District. The First and Second Comptroller of the Treasury are appointed to a board of audit to audit the Board of Public Works and the Territorial Government's financial affairs.
1878 Congress passes the Organic Act of 1878 which declares that the territory ceded by the State of Maryland to Congress for the permanent seat of government of the United States shall continue to be the District of Columbia and that it shall be organized as a municipal corporation of which the officers shall be three Presidentially appointed commissioners, one of whom shall be an officer of the Army Corps of Engineers. The board of the metropolitan police, the board of school trustees, the offices of the sinking-fund commissioners, and the board of health are abolished and their duties and powers transferred to the Commissioners. The Commissioners' proposed annual budget must be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury and by Congress. The federal payment is set at fifty percent of the budget Congress approves. Congress must also approve any public works contract over $1,000.
1879 The court in Roach et al. vs. Van Riswick decided that Congress has no capacity under the Constitution to delegate its delegated powers by bestowing general legislative authority upon the local government of the District of Columbia and declared the act of the District’s legislative assembly upon which the suit was brought inoperative and void.
1880 According to the Census, the District had 177,638 people in 1880 and 203,459 in 1885. The 1880 census figure for the District was more than Nevada (62,265), Delaware (146,654) and Oregon (174,767).
1888 In Callan v. Wilson (127 U.S. 540 (1888)), the Supreme Court held that the right to trial by jury extends to District residents.
1888 Conservative newspaperman Theodore Noyes of The Washington Star launches campaign for congressional representation and strongly opposes real democracy. Noyes writes, "National representation for the capital community is not in the slightest degree inconsistent with control of the capital by the nation through Congress." Sen. Henry Blair of New Hampshire introduces the first resolution for a constitutional amendment for D.C. voting rights in Congress and in the Electoral College, which fails to pass.
1888 According to a March 10, 1888 editorial in the Washington Star, District taxpayers “paid into the national treasury from the commencement of the excise tax law in 1862 $6,454,907.03, a larger amount than that derived from Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina or Vermont.”
1899 A political scientist describes the Board of Trade—which supports congressional voting rights only—as providing D.C. with the ideal form of local government through a "representative aristocracy."
1902 A joint resolution is introduced in Congress to direct the Attorney General to bring suit over the constitutionality of the retrocession of Alexandria and Alexandria County to Virginia, but it dies in committee.
1902 Senator Jacob Gallinger (R-NH), Chairman of the Senate's Committee on the District of Columbia, introduces a resolution to amend the Constitution and a make a state of the District of Columbia. At that time, D.C., with a population of 278,718, has a larger population than six states -- Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.
1915 President William Howard Taft writes in National Geographic about whether some of the ground lost to Virginia, particularly some acreage along the shoreline, can be retrieved for the District, but nothing comes of his proposal.
1917 Resolutions in the House and Senate proposed an amendment authorizing Congress to grant District residents representation in Congress, but the U.S. entrance into World War I put them on the back burner.
1919 Congress reduces the federal payment to forty percent. The Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce advocate congressional voting rights and oppose home rule.
1925 Congress abandons a fixed percentage federal payment and gives the commissioners authority to raise local taxes.
1929 Theodore W. Noyes, in a nationwide WMAL radio address in March, asked “Will not every red-blooded American who hears me tonight respond hopefully and vigorously to the District's appeal for political equality? How long, O Americans, must we of Washington be compelled to say and to sing: 'My county, 'tis of thee Not land of liberty, For District folks; Where rights for which the fathers died Are now denied and crucified, Mock'd at as jokes'?”
1935 The California legislature passes a resolution recommending Congress amend the Constitution to grant D.C. representation in Congress.
1938 The District Suffrage League feels the many proposals pending in Congress gave the impression that District citizens didn't know what they wanted. A Citizens’ Conference of 271 local organizations finances a plebiscite with two questions — “[D]o you want to vote for President and for members of Congress from the District of Columbia?, and do you want to vote for officials of your own city government in the District?” The District Suffrage League set up voting places in 38 public schools, and on April 29th dressed up like Paul Revere and paraded in the streets to publicize the event. 95,538 people vote on April 30th, most supporting both measures.
1939 Rep. Haton W. Sumners (TX) introduces H.J. Res. 257 that would give Congress the power to provide national representation for the District "no greater than that of the people of the States." The House Judiciary Committee favorably reports the resolution after it is amended to give D.C. representation in the House only, with the majority and minority leaders of both houses supporting it. The bill dies in the Rules Committee because of concerns about provisions that would enable Congress to delegate significant control of local affairs to D.C. residents.
1940 Congress grants District residents the same access to the federal courts as that available to residents of the states (diversity jurisdiction). The Supreme Court, in National Mut. Ins. Co. v. Tidewater Transfer Co., Inc., 337 U.S. 582 (1949), upholds that act.
1943 Board of Trade appears before Senate Committee to support representation in Congress but opposes local self-government.
1952 President Truman transmits Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952 to Congress to streamline the District's government by transferring over 50 boards and commissions to the Commissioners. When transmitting the plan to Congress, he states "I strongly believe that the citizens of the District of Columbia are entitled to self-government. I have repeatedly recommended, and I again recommend, enactment of legislation to provide home rule for the District of Columbia. Local self-government is both the right and the responsibility of free men. The denial of self-government does not befit the National Capital of the world's largest and most powerful democracy. Not only is the lack of self-government an injustice to the people of the District of Columbia, but it imposes a needless burden on the Congress and it tends to controvert the principles for which this country stands before the world."
1955 Although D.C. residents have no right to self-government or to elect any governmental official, Congress passes a D.C. election law that establishes board of elections, establishes procedures for registration, nominations, and voting for officials of political parties (national committee men and women, delegates to presidential nominating conventions, and local party officials).
1959 As part of an effort to break the deadlock over civil rights legislation, the Senate passes 63 to 25 an anti-poll tax bill that includes D.C. voting rights. The House kills the anti-poll tax amendment, and efforts at Congressional voting rights for D.C. ultimately fail. However, from this develops the resolution for the 23rd amendment giving District residents the right to vote for President.
1960 Segregationist Rep. John McMillan favors a D.C. vote for president and vice president, says a struggle for home rule will cripple the campaign for the national vote. McMillan thinks the national vote should "satisfy" DC residents "at least for a while."
1960 The House passes the resolution for the 23rd Amendment on June 15, 1960 and the Senate agrees to the bill on June 16, 1960. Most D.C. residents favor of the Amendment, including The Washington Post. The national campaign is largely bi-partisan. D.C.'s three commissioners pass a resolution supporting the measure, which they send to every State capital. The Citizens Committee for the Presidential Vote is formed, primarily financed by a $25,000 trust left by the late Washington Star editor, Theodore W. Noyes.
1961 By March 29, 1961, the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution is ratified by 39 states, one more than necessary. It gives D.C. the same number of electors in the electoral college that it would be entitled to if it were a state, but no more than the least populous state. Following ratification of the 23rd amendment, President John F. Kennedy stated “The speed with which this Constitutional amendment was approved by the required number of States [286 days or two days less than the repeal of prohibition] demonstrates the interest of the nation at large in providing to all American citizens the most valuable of human rights – the right to share in the election of those who govern us. … It is equally import that residents of the District of Columbia have the right to select officials who govern the District. I am hopeful that the Congress, spurred by the adoption of the 23rd amendment, will act favorably on legislative proposals to be recommended by the Administration providing the District of Columbia the right of home rule.”
1964 D.C. voters vote for President for the first time since the creation of the District in 1800, but only get "three fourths" of a vote since D.C. is limited to three electoral votes regardless of its population, which at the time would have merited two seats in the House.
1967 Thinking he might reduce tensions in D.C. and prevent riots like those occurring in other U.S. cities, President Lyndon Johnson transmits Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 to Congress. It creates a Presidentially appointed Council of nine members and a Presidentially appointed Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of the District of Columbia (Mayor and Deputy Mayor equivalents), eliminating the office held by an officer of the Corps of Engineers. President Johnson notes that the commissioner form of government was designed for a city of 150,000 people and that "(t)oday Washington has a population of 800,000. ... The proposed reorganization is in no way a substitute for home rule. As I stated in my Message on the Nation's Capital, the plan ‘will give the District a better organized and more efficient government... but only home rule will provide the District with a democratic government - of, by and for its citizens.’ I remain convinced more strongly than ever the Home Rule is still the truest course. We must continue to work toward that day - when the citizens of the District will have the right to frame their own laws, manage their own affairs, and choose their own leaders. Only then can we redeem that historic pledge to give the District of Columbia full membership in the American Union." He appoints Walter Washington "Mayor" and Thomas Fletcher "Deputy Mayor" and John Hechinger as Council Chairman.
1968 Congress authorizes D.C. to have an elected school board. D.C. citizens vote for school board members, their first vote for any local body since the territorial government was dissolved in 1874.
1969 President Richard M. Nixon supports D.C. Home Rule and voting rights. He says: "The District's citizens should not be expected to pay taxes for a government which they have no part in choosing - or to bear the full burdens of citizenship without the full rights of citizens." During his presidency, Nixon advances the cause by establishing a "state level" court system (D.C. courts had been combined with federal courts since 1801), proposing a non-voting delegate to Congress, and establishing the Nelson Commission to study local governance.
1970 Congress passes the District of Columbia Election Act of 1970 that gives D.C. the right to elect a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives, the first since 1874 and a right already enjoyed by American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
1970 In June, D.C. alternative journalist Sam Smith publishes "A Case for Statehood" in the June edition of the D.C. Gazette. The D.C. Statehood Party is formed with Julius Hobson its first candidate for nonvoting Delegate.
1971 D.C. voters elect Walter Fauntroy as their second nonvoting Delegate to House of Representatives. Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) introduces a D.C. statehood bill.
1973 Congress passes the D.C. Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act (Home Rule Act) providing for an elected Mayor, 13 member Council and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and delegating certain powers to the new government, subject to Congressional oversight and veto. The new government is prohibited from taxing Federal property and nonresident income and from changing the Federal building height limitation, altering the court system or changing the criminal code until 1977. Congress retains a legislative veto over Council actions and must approve the District's budget. All District judges are Presidential appointees. A "floating" federal payment is retained. Planning and zoning are to be governed by a mixture of District and Federal agencies.
1974 D.C. voters elect Walter Washington as their first elected Mayor since 1870 and their first elected Council, headed by Chairman Sterling Tucker, since 1874.
1977 President Carter announces his support for full voting rights for D.C. in Congress. Vice President Walter Mondale says "We believe there is no justification for denying citizens equal representation at the federal level because they happen to reside in the District of Columbia."
1978 Congress amends the Home Rule Act to add recall, initiative and referendum provisions and makes a number of changes to address the problems of delay and federal intrusions into purely local decisions.
1978 Congress passes a Constitutional amendment to give D.C. full Congressional voting rights (two Senators and Representatives) and full representation in the Electoral College. The states have seven years to ratify it.
1979 An initiative to hold a Statehood Constitutional Convention is filed. Congress rejects the Council's bill on the location of chanceries, an example of the Federal interference in local land use decisions.
1980 D.C. voters overwhelmingly approve Initiative Measure No. 3, the District of Columbia Statehood Constitutional Convention Initiative of 1979 (90,533 or 60% of the voters in favor and 60,072 against).
1981 D.C. voters elect 45 delegates to the Statehood Constitutional Convention. Congress rejects the Council's revision to the D.C. sexual assault law.
1982 The convention, of which D.C. statehood activist Charles Cassell is elected President, completes its work in three months. On November 2, D.C. voters ratify the "Constitution for the State of New Columbia" (61,405 or 52.8% of the voters in favor and 54,964 against) and authorize the electing of two Statehood or "Shadow" Senators and a Representative to promote statehood (this provision is not implemented until 1990).
1983 On September 9, the Mayor transmits a petition for statehood, including the 1982 constitution ratified by the voters, to the Congress, where no action is taken on it.
1985 The 1978 constitutional voting rights amendment dies after only 16 states ratify it (Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Louisiana, Hawaii and Delaware). D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy introduces H.R. 325, the New Columbia Admission Act and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduces S. 293, a companion bill.
1986 Subcommittee hearings on H.R. 325 are held by the House District of Columbia Subcommittee on Fiscal Affairs and Health on May 13 and June 11, 1986, but no other action is taken on H.R. 325 or S. 293.
1987 On January 6, D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy introduces H.R. 51, the New Columbia Admission Act, with 68 original cosponsors, including four Republicans. Ultimately, the bill has 101 cosponsors, including 6 Republicans. The House District of Columbia Subcommittee on Fiscal Affairs and Health holds three hearings and reports the bill to the full Committee. The House District of Columbia Committee approves the bill on June 3, 1987 and it is reported to the House, with Report No. 100-305, on September 17, 1987. House District of Columbia Committee Chair, Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA), says “There should be no colonies in a democracy, and the District of Columbia continues to be a colony.” Unfortunately, the full House fails to act on the bill.
1987 On May 5, the D.C. Council approves a revised Constitution for the State of New Columbia, which the Mayor signs on May 6, and which is transmitted to Congress on May 8 for a 30-day Congressional review, after which it becomes D.C. law on June 24, 1987.
1988 For the first time, the Democratic Party’s platform supports statehood for the District of Columbia.
1989 D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy re-introduces the New Columbia Admission Act as H.R. 51, which is cosponsored by 61 House members. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduces S. 2647, a companion bill, which has five cosponsors. No action is taken on either bill.
1990 D.C. residents elect their first statehood senators and representative. The positions were first authorized in 1982 when the statehood constitution was approved. Eleanor Holmes Norton is elected as the District of Columbia's third nonvoting delegate, succeeding Walter Fauntroy.
1991 D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduces H.R. 2482, the New Columbia Admission Act. The House District of Columbia Committee’s Subcommittee on the Judiciary and Education holds hearings and reports the bill to full committee. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) reintroduces the New Columbia Admission Act as S. 2023 with 17 cosponsors, but no action is taken on the bill.
1992 The House District of Columbia Committee amends and reports a clean bill (H.R. 4718; House Report 102-909), but no further action is taken.
1992 The House of Representatives, with a new Democratic majority, grants the D.C. Delegate a limited vote in the Committee of the Whole.
1992 The Democratic Party’s platform says that “we need fair political representation for all sectors of our country—including the District of Columbia, which deserves and must get statehood status.”
1993 D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton re-introduces H.R. 51 with 81 cosponsors. The House District Committee favorably reports the bill out of committee; but in first full House vote on statehood ever, it fails (153 to 277).
1993 Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduces a companion bill, S. 898, with 17 cosponsors, but no action is taken on it. In his introductory comments, Sen. Kennedy notes that “(b)y every reasonable measure of comparison, the District deserves to become a State.” It’s population is greater than that of three states; its citizens paid $3.1 billion in federal taxes; more than the citizens of eight states; it lost more young men in Vietnam than 10 states; and it ranks fifth per capita in the number of Reserves called to active duty in the Persian Gulf War. Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL) notes on the bill’s introduction that: “As Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I … am persuaded that a constitutional amendment is not required. … For the approximately three-quarters of a million people who are District residents, statehood is along time in coming and critically needed today. … District residents have spoken out for statehood for many years and it is time for their status to evolve to full statehood. The people of the District of Columbia … serve bravely in our Armed Forces but cannot vote for the men and women in the House and Senate who make the war declaration. …District residents pay taxes and have no Federal representation. Taxation without representation was wrong in 1775 and it is wrong today. District residents face the anomalous situation of being host to Congress and having no say in Congress. We ought not to have second-class citizenship in this Nation. Accepting the District of Columbia as a State will once and for all end that inequity for these American citizens.”
1995 D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton reintroduces H.R. 51 with one cosponsor, but no action is taken on the bill.
1995 The D.C. Delegate's vote in the House Committee of the Whole is revoked. Congress authorizes the President to appoint the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (Control Board), which replaces the elected school board with an appointed board. The law also creates the Office of Chief Financial Officer for the District of Columbia.
1996 The Democratic Party’s platform says that “we believe all Americans have a right to fair political representation -- including the citizens of the District of Columbia who deserve full self-governance, political representation, and statehood.”
1997 Congress strengthens the Control Board by giving it total control over D.C.'s courts, prisons and pension liabilities (much of that $5 billion in unfunded liabilities is from the pre-Home Rule era), increased control over Medicaid and removes nine D.C. agencies from the Mayor's authority. The Federal Payment provisions are repealed. Locally elected officials can regain authority after four consecutive balanced budgets.
1998 D.C. voters vote on a medical marijuana initiative (Initiative 59), but the Barr Amendment prohibits spending money to even count the ballots. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts rules in 1999 that ballots can be counted (69% of the voters favored the initiative), but Congressional riders prohibit implementing the initiative.
1998 Twenty D.C. citizens (Adams v. Clinton) sue the President, the Clerk and Sergeant At Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Control Board seeking declaratory judgments and injunctions to redress their deprivation of their democratic right (1) to equal protection or "the right to stand on an equal footing with all other citizens of the United States," (2) to enjoy republican forms of government, (3) to be apportioned into congressional districts and be represented by duly elected representatives and Senators in Congress, and (4) to participate through duly elected representatives in a state government insulated from Congressional interference in matters properly with the exclusive competence of state governments under the 10th Amendment.
1998 Another lawsuit, Alexander v. Daley, is filed by 57 District residents and the District government against the Secretary of Commerce, the Clerk, Sergeant of Arms and Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Secretary and Doorkeeper/Sergeant of Arms of the U.S. Senate alleging violations of their equal protection and due process rights and privileges of citizenship and seeking voting representation in both houses of Congress.
1998 Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening publicly opposes retrocession of the District of Columbia to Maryland.
1999 President Bill Clinton vetoes H.R. 2587, the "District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2000" because it contains numerous riders that "are unwarranted intrusions into local citizens' decisions about local matters." Specifically, the bill prohibits (1) the use of Federal AND District funds for petition drives or civil actions for voting representation in Congress; (2) limits access to representation in special education cases; (3) prohibits the use of Federal AND District funds for abortions except where the mother's life was in danger or in cases of rape or incest; (4) prohibits the use of Federal AND District funds to implement or enforce a Domestic Partners Act; (5) prohibits the use of Federal AND District funds for a needle exchange program and District funding of any entity, public OR private that has a needle exchange program, even if funded privately; (6) prohibits the D.C. Council from legislating regarding controlled substances in a manner that any state could do; and (7) limits the salary that could be paid to D.C. Council Members.
2000 A three judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in the consolidated lawsuit of Adams v. Clinton and Alexander v. Daley, finds it has authority to only rule on the issue of apportionment and representation in the House and holds that inhabitants of the District are not unconstitutionally deprived of their right to vote for voting representation in the House. The court remands the issues of voting representation in the Senate and Adams' challenge to the existence of the Control Board to the single District Judge with whom the cases were originally filed, and that judge dismisses both claims. Adams' claim regarding the right to an elected state government insulated from Congressional interference is not directly addressed. In his dissent, Judge Louis Oberdorfer finds the people of the District of Columbia are entitled to elect members of the U.S. House.
2000 A D.C. Superior Court jury finds statehood activists Anise Jenkins and Karen Szulgit not guilty of "Disruption of Congress" when they spoke out on July 29, 1999 in the House of Representatives against passage of the Barr Amendment that prohibited the implementation of D.C. Initiative 59. Ben Armfield was acquitted of a similar charge earlier in the year. Ms. Szulgit reflected on their 7-month ordeal saying: "Freedom isn't free. I look forward to the day when we stand together -- all the D.C. democracy advocates, our locally elected officials, and every member of Congress -- and finally address the unfinished business of the civil rights movement."
2000 On the 40th anniversary of the founding of SNCC, the Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee (UPAC), of which James Foreman is president, petitions Congress to "grant immediate Statehood to the majority part of the District of Columbia."
2000 The Democratic Party’s platform says that “(t)he citizens of the District of Columbia are entitled to autonomy in the conduct of their civic affairs, full political representation as Americans who are fully taxed, and statehood.”
2001 The D.C. Democracy 7 are acquitted. They were arrested on July 26, 2000 for "Disruption of Congress" in the House of Representatives Visitors' Gallery for allegedly chanting "D.C. Votes No! Free D.C.!" during a Congressional vote on the D.C. Appropriations Bill. Their first trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial.
2001 The Control Board officially suspends its operations and transfers home rule authority back to the elected Mayor and Council (although upon certain conditions occurring, the Control Board can be reactivated in the future).
2001 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) rules on a 1993 charge brought by the Statehood Solidarity Committee and finds that the denial to D.C. citizens of equal political participation in their national legislature and the right to equality before the law is a violation of their human rights.
2002 At the Second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the D.C. Statehood Green Party presents a petition calling for statehood, democracy, and full rights under the U.S. Constitution for residents of the District of Columbia.
2004 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issues a report finding that the United States Government violates District residents' rights by denying them participation in their federal legislature.
2004 The demand for D.C. statehood is dropped from the Democratic Party platform at the suggestion of D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, vice-chair of the DNC Platform Committee.
2005 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) passes a resolution calling on Congress to support equal voting rights legislation for D.C. residents.
2005 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia holds in Banner v. United States that in prohibiting a commuter tax on nonresidents working in the District Congress was merely exercising the power that "the legislature of a State might exercise within the State" and did not violate the equal protection or the uniformity clause of the Constitution.
2006 The U.N. Human Rights Committee finds that D.C.’s lack of voting representation in Congress violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty ratified by more than 160 countries, including the United States.
2007 The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights finds D.C.'s lack of equal congressional voting rights inconsistent with United States' human rights commitments under the OSCE Charter.
2008 D.C. statehood continues to be missing from the Democratic Party platform.
2009 Congress considers granting D.C. a vote in the House of Representatives. The Senate passes the bill with an extraneous gun rights amendment added by Sen. Ensign (R-NV) that strips the D.C. government of much of its authority to regulate guns. Nevertheless, Congress does not take any action on the Firearms Registration Act of 2008, which the D.C. Council passed in order to bring local gun laws into compliance with the Supreme Court decision in Heller. The House leadership pulls the bill. Despite having a Democratically controlled House and Senate, an amendment that would prohibit the District from providing money to any needle exchange program that operates within 1,000 feet of virtually any location where children gather is added to the House version of its 2010 appropriation bill (though finally deleted from the final bill).
2009 The D.C. Council creates a new Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination chaired by Council Member Michael A. Brown. The Committee begins an extensive series of hearings on statehood and its ramifications. Led by Council Chair Vincent Gray, nine members of the D.C. Council attend the 2009 Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Philadelphia and promote statehood.
2010 On March 26, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Richard M. Urbina upheld the gun laws that the District of Columbia Council passed to comply with the landmark 2008 Heller Supreme Court ruling that struck down the city's decades-old ban on handgun possession.
2010 On April 20, the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives pulls the D.C. Voting Rights Act (with the Ensign Amendment) before a scheduled vote on the floor, effectively killing it for this session of Congress after District residents and some Council Members object to loss of local legislative authority over firearms.
2010 On April 29, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduce a standalone bill to make it easier to buy guns and ammunition in the District and to repeal local registration and firearm storage requirements.
2011 On January 2, Mayor Vincent Gray endorses D.C. statehood in his inaugural address saying "in many ways, Washington is the greatest symbol of our nation's democracy. Yet, we as Washingtonians continue to be the only people in our nation that remain shut out of that democracy. ... That is why we cannot rest until we achieve true self-determination and become our nation's 51st state." He ends his speech with "(t)his is our city. ... we won't stand for disenfranchisement because we aspire to be the best democracy in the world. President Abraham Lincoln once said 'allow all the governed an equal voice in the government and that, and only that, is self-government.' My friends, it is then and only then, that we can proclaim this nation's promise of justice for all finally has arrived in the District of Columbia."
2011 On January 4, at the first legislative session of the newly elected Council, all Council Members co-introduce a resolution endorsing D.C. statehood and urging D.C.'s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to introduce a statehood bill.
2011 On January 5, the House of Representatives, now controlled by the Republican Party, strips D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton of her vote in the Committee of the Whole.
2011 On January 12, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduces 3 bills, the first of which is H.R. 265, the New Columbia Admission Act. Over the course of the year, 15 cosponsors are added.
2011 On January 18, Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court denies a request for a stay in a challenge to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics' decision that a referendum to repeal the District of Columbia's Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act and thus can't be the subject of a referendum. Since Congress had its 30 day period of review and chose not to act on the law, he finds that the Court is unlikely to grant certiorari.
2011 On March 1, the D.C. Council unanimously approves the "Sense of the Council on Calling on Congress to Admit the District of Columbia as the 51st State of Union Resolution of 2011."
2011 On March 30, on the 50th anniversary of the 23rd amendment to the Constitution, Mayor Gray notes that “No other U.S. jurisdiction is barred from spending its own taxpayer-raised funds as it sees fit. However, the House has passed a continuing resolution that includes harmful anti-home-rule amendments that ban the District from using local funds on needle-exchange programs to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and for abortions for needy women. The school voucher programs also would be re-established against the will of the city -- a move that is unnecessary, as our traditional public schools are improving and charter schools are providing citywide choice. We hope the Senate will counter these regressive and draconian measures and allow the city to govern itself."
2011 On April 11, 41 D.C. residents (dubbed the "D.C. 41 for 51"), including Mayor Vincent Gray and six members of the D.C. Council, are arrested for sitting down in the street outside the Hart Senate Office Building in an act of civil disobedience to protest Congressional riders on the District budget bill would prohibit the District from using its own funding to pay for abortions and require the District to invest in a school voucher program it does not want.
2011 On April 15, April 18 and May 4, 14 more D.C. residents, including D.C. Senator Michael D. Brown and Council Member Mary Cheh, are arrested in similar demonstrations. The May 4 demonstration follows a House of Representatives vote to permanently ban the use of D.C. tax money to pay for abortions of low-income women. The first to go to trial is Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Keith Silver (SMD 6C06) who was arrested on April 18 and charged with "unlawful assembly --disorderly conduct." He is acquited in November 2011.
2011 On June 16, a House Appropriations Subcommittee approves the 2012 D.C. budget and included a rider that would prohibit the District government from using its own funds to pay for abortion services for poor women. Earlier in the year, much to the dismay and outrage of District residents and officials, President Obama agreed to this provision in a short term spending deal to get the larger Federal budget bill for the Treasury and other agencies passed.
2011 On June 25, twelve more D.C. residents, including Trayon White, the Ward 8 representative on the D.C. State Board of Education, Dr. Dennis Wiley and his wife Christina of the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, and former youth mayor Markus Batchelor, are arrested for sitting down in front of the White House to protest D.C.'s lack of rights and demanding that "President Obama, stand up for D.C." This brings to 72 the number of people arrested in 2011 for protesting the District's lack of voting rights, Congressional riders on the D.C. budget, and the need for D.C. statehood.
2011 In July, House consideration of the District of Columbia's budget is postponed indefinitely because of a jurisdictional fight over issues related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").
2011 On September 10, the Democratic National Committee passes a resolution endorsing and encouraging “citizens and their members of Congress to support full democracy and statehood for the District of Columbia ....”
2011 On November 10, the National Park Service reopens the restored District of Columbia World War I Memorial on the Mall. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton speaks out in opposition to efforts to make a memorial District residents paid for to honor the 29,000 D.C. residents who served, and 499 D.C. residents who died, in World War I a national World War I memorial. President Hoover dedicated the memorial on Armistice Day 1931 to the music of D.C.'s own John Phillip Sousa who conducted the Marine Band. The D.C. Council and the Association of Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia have forcefully opposed the federalization of our local memorial.
2011 Congress passes the fiscal year 2012 omnibus spending bill, including the D.C. budget, and removes all riders except, for the second year in a row, a rider prohibiting the District government from using its local taxes monies to pay for abortion services for poor District women. This is something Congress can only do to D.C. and not to its own constituents in the 50 states.
2012 On January 7, D.C.'s own, Glenn Leonard, Joe Coleman, and Joe Blunt, former lead singers with the Temptations, Platters, and Drifters respectively, joined by Ayanna Gregory and the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, introduce Stand Up for D.C., a new anthem for the D.C. statehood movement, at a statehood fundraiser sponsored by the ACLU-NCA.
2012 Over the course of the year, 13 more House members, or a total of 28, cosponsor H.R. 265.
2012 On January 28, the Convention of the Episcopal Convention of the Episcopal Church.
2012 In February, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton convinces the Justice Department and Senate Judiciary Committee to remove a D.C. only provision from a bill that would have made it a federal crime to steal money or property of the District of Columbia, but not of any other state or local government.
2012 On February 28, the Prince George's County Council (Maryland), on its own initiative because, as Vice Chairman Eric Olson says, "it is the right thing to do," approves a resolution supporting admitting the District of Columbia as the 51st state.
2012 On April 18, 2012, six George Washington University students who are members of the DC Statehood Student Association are arrested by the Capitol Police for a nonviolent sit-down for D.C. statehood.
2012 On May 17, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, refuses to let D.C.'s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton speak on a bill that would ban abortions in D.C. once a fetus is 20 weeks past fertilization, even though the bill would only affect her constituents. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a companion bill. On May 23, District residents flood Rep. Frank's congressional office with calls on a mock "D.C. Constituent Service Day." Last year, Rep. Franks also refused to let Delegate Norton testify on a bill to completely ban the use of local D.C. funds for abortions for poor women.
2012 On May 17, the House or Representatives passes an amendment to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA). The amendment expresses the sense of Congress that active duty military personnel, who either live in or are stationed in Washington, D.C., should be exempt from existing D.C. gun control laws. D.C.'s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton noted no Federal law exempts active duty military personnel in their personal capacity from otherwise applicable Federal, State or local firearms laws and asked why, if this is such a good idea, he isn't proposing to apply it in all 50 states. Contrary to Rep. Gingrey's assertions, she noted that a Federal district court and a Federal appeals court have upheld the District's gun control laws as they were revised after the Supreme Court's Heller decision.
2012 On July 31, two-thirds of the House Representatives fails to approve a motion to suspend the rules to vote on H.R. 3803, the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), and the bill dies. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton declares: “The folks behind this bill care nothing about the District of Columbia. They have picked on the District to get a phony federal imprimatur on a bill that targets Roe v. Wade. Bills based on pain or principle would not target only one city that has no vote on a bill that involves only the residents of that city. Women have pulled the cover from a bill with a D.C. label, because they know an attack on their reproductive health when they see it.”
2012 July 7, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA approves resolution Co33 endorsing Statehood for the District of Columbia.
2012 September 4-5, 2012, the Democratic Party omits D.C. statehood from the platform for the third time despite last minute appeals from D.C.'s Mayor and the chair of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. Nevertheless, D.C. statehood activists lobby Democratic delegates, volunteers and the public to contact their Congressional delegations and urge them to support D.C. statehood.
2012 On October 2, 2012, The D.C. Council unanimously votes to hold a referendum to amend the District of Columbia's charter to authorize budget autonomy (i.e. remove Congress from having to approve how District tax funds are spent). This "strategy" was "masterminded" by D.C. Vote and the D.C. Appleseed Center.
2012 On December 19, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduces S. 3696, the Senate companion bill to H.R. 265, the New Columbia Admission Act, with three cosponsors.
2013 On January 4, 2013, D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan sends letter to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics saying that he has "serious reservations about the legality" of trying to amend the Congressional budgetary oversight provisions of D.C. (Home Rule) Charter by referendum. At a hearing before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on January 7, 2013, Attorney General Nathan asks the Board to reject the referendum as a ballot question, saying that Congress did not intend to let the Council alter Congress’ affirmative role in the D.C. budgetary process when it gave the District limited home rule rights in 1973. On January 8, 2013, the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics disagrees and votes unanimously to include the proposed charter amendment on the April 23, 2013 special election ballot.
2013 On January 15, D.C.'s non-voting Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, introduces H.R. 292, the New Columbia Admission Act in the 113th Congress. It is co-sponsored by 15 House members. In her introductory statement she notes: "To be content with less than statehood is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of our residents as citizens of the United States. It is too late for the residents of the District of Columbia to make such a concession as we approach the 212th year in our fight for equal treatment in our country. This bill is the first I file in the 113th Congress, and it reaffirms our determination to obtain each and every right enjoyed by citizens of the United States by becoming the 51st State of the Union." By the end of the session, there are 112 cosponsors.
2013 On January 24, 2012, Senator Thomas Carper, Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, introduces S. 132, the New Columbia Admissions Act, a companion bill to H.R. 292. S. 132 is co-sponsored by three senior Democratic senators, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who all cosponsored S. 3696 in the previous session of Congress. By the end of the session, there are 21 cosponsors. In his introductory remarks, Sen. Carper says: “I believe we keep proposing and debating different solutions to the injustice imposed on District residents because we know in our hearts that the situation we have now and have tolerated for so long is not right. It is familiar, but it is not fair and not consistent with the values we all share as Americans. It is incumbent upon those of us who enjoy the right and the privilege of full voting rights to take up the cause of our fellow citizens here in the District of Columbia and find a solution.”
2013 On April 23, D.C. voters approve the charter amendment to authorize budget autonomy (46,788 votes in favor versus 7,411 against and 3,033 not voting and 4 over votes). Only 11% of the registered voters vote in the election (and only 9% of registered voters approve the charter amendment).
2013 At a May 1, 2013 benefit for the D.C. Volunteer Lawyers Project, Vice President Joseph Biden speaks about violence against women and then says "By the way, there should be two senators from the state of D.C."
2013 On Friday, May 3, the Hawaii State Senate passed a resolution expressing its support for a constitutional amendment that would grant full voting rights to D.C. residents. As Martin Austermuhle notes on WAMU: "This isn't the first time that the Aloha State has sided with D.C. on the issue — Governor Benjamin Cayetano declared August 2002 to be District of Columbia Voting Rights Month, and in 1961 Hawaii was the first state to ratify the 23rd amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted D.C. residents the right to vote in presidential elections." The Hawaii House of Representatives had previously approved the measure unanimously.
2013 On June 18, Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY) becomes the 51st cosponsor of H.R. 292, the New Columbia Admission Act.
2013 In their remarks at the June 19, 2013 dedication of the District of Columbia's gift of a statue of Frederick Douglass to the U.S. Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speak out for the rights of the people of the District of Columbia. Senator Reid announces "It is just and proper that more than 600,000 residents of D.C. should have a statue in the Capitol ... Washington, D.C. residents deserve the same right to self-government as any other state. The District of Columbia deserves statehood. And to show how serious I am about this, I signed my name as a cosponsor to legislation to achieve this." Rep. Pelosi says "While the District deserves to have two statues in the Capitol, like the states, since its residents pay federal taxes and have fought and died in every American war, a statue depicting Frederick Douglass could not be a more apt representative for the people of D.C. Douglass fought for District residents to have self-government and Congressional representation, a fight our Caucus carries on today.”
2013 At a rally on August 24, at the D.C. World War I Memorial on the National Mall, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, our Congressional delegation, and others hold a rally for D.C. statehood as part of the events leading up to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Fifty years after this famous march for jobs and justice, the people of D.C. are still denied the right to liberty and self-government. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of equal rights and liberty for all Americans remains unfinished!
2013 The District of Columbia government is threatened with the possibility of being shutdown as of October 1, 2013, as Congress has not passed an appropriations bill for the District of Columbia. Mayor Vincent Gray writes the Federal Office of Management and Budget and declares that all District government employees should be considered "essential." D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan determines that the District government can use its contingency fund to fund government operations, at least for a short time, if Congress further delays passing an appropriations bill or continuing resolution. Congress ends the shutdown after 16 days, just before the contingency fund runs out. However, to conserve funds, the District government delays making some major payments such as its quarterly payment to Metro for transit services.
2013 On November 21, the Council of Churches of Greater Washington's annual Fall Forum focused on “Statehood for the District of Columbia – Why It is Owed to Us and How Houses of Worship can Assist in the Statehood Process.”
2014 On January 8, Rep. Trent Franks, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, refuses to grant D.C.'s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton the courtesy of being able to testify on H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would apply only to her constituents. The bill would permanently prohibit the District of Columbia from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women, and define the D.C. government as part of the federal government for the purposes of abortion. On January 9, the D.C. Democratic State Committee approves a resolution expressing its outrage at the bill and Rep. Frank's refusal to let D.C.'s elected delegate testify on the bill.
2014 On February 13, D.C. Senator Paul Strauss speaks on D.C. statehood at The Creative Coalition's Voices of Impact dinner and recruits noted Hollywood artists to film public service announcements supporting D.C. statehood.
2014 On February 28, at the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., D.C.'s Democratic National Committeewoman Estell Lloyd introduces a resolution endorsing statehood for D.C. at the meeting of DNC's Eastern Caucus (DNC members from Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, and Democrats Abroad) and the resolution passes! On March 1, the DNC's LGBT Caucus, Black Caucus, and Ethnic Coordinating Council all pass resolutions endorsing D.C. statehood.
2014 On March 13, the New Hampshire House passes “a resolution expressing its support for the right of residents of the District of Columbia to be fully represented in the Congress of the United States of America,” in a 145-133 vote. In a letter to the Concord Monitor, D.C. Senator Michael D. Brown writes that New Hampshire legislators should actually be pushing for statehood, not voting rights as "(v)oting rights granted by Congress can be taken away and will not resolve the current inequity of no budget or legal autonomy for District of Columbia. Only statehood is permanent and provides equality that is a prerequisite of our democracy.”
2014 On May 19, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan rules that the Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012, and the related April 23, 2013 referendum, is unlawful, as it violates the Home Rule Act and the Anti-Deficiency Act, and permanently enjoins its enforcement. He notes that "(a)lthough the Council of the District of Columbia, the Mayor, and this Court are powerless to grant to the residents of the District of Columbia the full budget autonomy that they have demanded for almost forty years to spend their revenue collected from their local taxes and fees, the United States Congress and the President of the United States are -- without a doubt -- empowered to do so." D.C. journalist Tom Sherwood notes "(n)ow , advocates for flat-out statehood feel it's time to once again pursue that goal, saying it's the only way to go. ...Unless the Appeals Court delivers a huge surprise, we're pretty much at the end of suing for rights we should have."
2014 July 21, at a town meeting on the My Brother's Keeper initiative at Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama says he support statehood for D.C. "I’m in D.C., so I’m for it. I've been for it for quite some time. I've long believed that folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else."
2014 On August 22, the Democratic National Committee unanimously passes a resolution endorsing and encouraging “citizens and their members of Congress to support statehood and full democracy for the District of Columbia....”
2014 September 15, Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and sponsor of S. 132, the New Columbia Admission Act, holds the first hearing in twenty years on statehood for the District of Columbia. District residents pack the hearing room and overflow into the halls.
2015 On January 13, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton reintroduces the New Columbia Admission Act with a record number of original cosponsors - 93! By the end of the session, there are 133 cosponsors. In her introductory remarks, she states: "“Statehood is the only alternative for the citizens of the District of Columbia. To be content with less than statehood is to concede the equality of citizenship that is the birthright of our residents as citizens of the United States. That is a concession no American citizen has ever made, and one D.C. residents will not make as they approach the 214th year in their fight for equal treatment in their country. This bill reaffirms our determination to obtain each and every right enjoyed by citizens of the United States, by becoming the 51st State in the Union.”
2015 On February 21, the Democratic National Committee again endorses and encourages “citizens and their members of Congress to support Statehood and full democracy for the District of Columbia....”
2015 On June 25, Sen. Thomas Carper reintroduces the New Columbia Admission Act, a companion bill to H.R. 317, in the Senate with a record number of original cosponsors (17). By the end of the session, there are 20 cosponsors. Sen. Carper noted that his committee's September 15, 2014 hearing "helped reinvigorate the conversation in Congress and across the country about equality and fairness for District residents. It is my hope that this bill will help continue that important dialogue."
2015 On August 2, HBO television host John Oliver introduces millions of Americans to the people of D.C.’s second-class citizenship and why the District of Columbia should become a state.
2015 In November, at its 20th session in Brussels, Belgium, the Unrepresented Nations and People's Organization (UNPO), an international, nonviolent and democratic membership organization, formally votes to accept the District of Columbia as a new member.
2016 On April 15, Mayor Muriel Bowser announces a plan to rewrite the constitution of New Columbia and put the new constitution on the ballot in November 2016 for the voters to ratify as the centerpiece of an effort to apply the "Tennessee Plan" to the District's quest for statehood. No new funding for this effort, and related public relations efforts, is provided.
2016 On May 12, the House Oversight and Government Operations Committee holds a hearing on D.C. Home Rule and the 2013 Budget Autonomy Referendum. Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) warns that if the District Government tries to bypass the Congressional budget and appropriation process for expenditures of local tax monies D.C. employees would possibly be subject to prosecution under the Anti-Deficiency Act.
2016 On May 13, 2016, Rep. Meadows introduces H.R. 5233, a bill to repeal the Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act of 2012 and to amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to clarify the respective roles of the District government and Congress in the local budget process of the District government. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).
2016 On May 17, 2016, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approves H.R. 5233 and, on May 25, 2016, the full House approves the bill by a vote of 240 to 179 and sends it to the Senate.
2016 On June 13, 17, and 18, the New Columbia Statehood Commission convenes its "statehood "convention" to hear public testimony on the new draft statehood constitution. It is really a town hall meeting as there are no real delegates and all decisions will be made by the five member commission.
2016 On June 19, the League of Women Voters of the United States as their convention in Washington, D.C. votes overwhelmingly to support “legislation that will establish statehood for the people of the District of Columbia.”
2016 On June 27, the United States Conference of Mayors adopts a resolution introduced by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser supporting statehood for the District of Columbia.
2016 On June 28, the New Columbia Statehood Commission amends and approves a new constitution for the State of New Columbia. Unfortunately, the public has had only very limited opportunity to participate in the drafting and approval of the constitution, leaving many issues unresolved.
2016 On July 12, the D.C. Council passes the "Advisory Referendum on the State of New Columbia Admission Act Resolution of 2016." The Statehood Commission's constitution is introduced as Bill No. 21-0826. Hearings are held on Bill 21-0826 on September 27 and October 6. On October 5, 2016, PR 21-0913 is substituted for Bill 21-0826. The proposed resolution includes new boundaries that vary somewhat from those approved by the New Columbia Statehood Commission, as well as a revised constitution. Unlike the bill, the proposed resolution only requires a single “reading” and vote.
2016 On October 18, 2016, the D.C. Council approves Resolution 21-621, the “Constitution and Boundaries for the State of Washington, D.C. Approval Resolution of 2016,” after agreeing to change the new state’s name from “New Columbia” to “State of Washington, D.C. (Douglass Commonwealth),” and provide for a mandatory constitutional convention with elected delegates within 2 years of admission.
2016 On November 8, District voters overwhelmingly vote for statehood with 87% (or 244,134) of those voting on the referendum approving it and 13% (40,779) opposing it. 26,154 voters either did not vote on the referendum or otherwise spoiled their ballot. By approving the referendum the voters advise the D.C. Council to petition Congress to approve an admission act. This is the first time since 1982, when they ratified the 1982 constitution, that District voters have had a chance to vote for statehood.
2016 On November 9, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Europe’s largest human rights organization, released their preliminary report on the 201 U.S. elections which found that the denial of voting representation in Congress to the residents of the District of Columbia, as well as to residents of U.S. overseas territories, contravenes “the principle of universal and equal suffrage, as provided in OSCE commitments.” The United States is a founding member of the OSCE and as such is politically obligated to fulfill its OSCE commitments.
2017 January 17, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) reintroduces his bill to gut D.C. gun laws. Bill S. 162, A bill to restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia, is a new version of S. 874, the Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2015, that he introduced in the 114th Congress as a companion bill to Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) bill, H.R. 1701.
2017 January 24, the U.S. House of Representatives approves (238 to 183) H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, which makes permanent the prohibition on the use of federal funds, including local D.C. tax monies, for abortion or health coverage that includes abortion and provides that abortions may not be provided in a federal health care facility or by a federal employee.
2017 January 24, Sen.Tim Scott (R-SC) and seven other Republican Senators, including the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, introduced S. 235, the CHOICE Act, that, among other things, would expand eligibility for the D.C. school voucher program.
2017 March 2, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduces HR. 1291, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act with a record setting 116 cosponsors. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson deliver the Council’s formal petition for statehood to the Congress, as directed by D.C. voters when they overwhelming approved the statehood referendum on November 8, 2016.
"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed...." Preamble, Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
Courtesy of D.C. Statehood - Yes We Can! For updates, go to dcstatehoodyeswecan,org.
copyright Ann Loikow