Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico should be granted permanent statehood


Jacob Ritholz and Andrew Ollendorff, Staff Writers

The issue of whether or not to grant statehood to Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico has once again come up in American politics with the election drawing near.  Although D.C. and Puerto Rico have two separate situations, both should be granted statehood and fair representation in the United States government.

Washington D.C. has long been the capital of our nation, yet, after over 200 years, it has always remained separate from the states.  So why should that change now?  To put it simply, the people of Washington D.C. have no representation in Congress and the daily political activities that surround their lives.  They are given a “delegate” in the House of Representatives, but this delegate has no voting power and is completely useless.  The more than 700,000 people living in the capital have no say over what happens in Congress, despite being affected by the legislative decisions made there.  Even though they pay the sixth highest federal tax rate in the country, they have no control over their taxation.  They put resources and money into the system, but do not reap any of the benefits.  Their license plates even read, “Taxation without representation.”  The founding fathers fought a revolution over this principle, so why should a different philosophy be applied to Washington D.C.? 

So why then has D.C. not become a state already?  The Constitution includes a clause  (Article 1, Section 8) that states that Congress should be in charge of the seat of government, which will be a “district (not exceeding ten square miles).” 

As a result, it would likely require an amendment to the Constitution.  This clause can easily be worked around by changing the size of D.C. to include only the National Mall, the White House, and the Capital building.  A number of size changes have occurred in the past, so this is not out of the realm of possibility. 

The real problem preventing D.C. from achieving statehood is the potential political implications.  If Washington D.C. was to become a state, it would get representatives according to population and two senators like every other state.  These elected officials, especially the senators, would likely be Democrats.  This raises an issue for Republicans, who are afraid of losing their majority in the Senate, so instead, they leave hundreds of thousands of American citizens without representation.  Washington D.C. should be granted statehood, despite the political implications.

“D.C. deserves representation in government, just like the other states,” said junior Josh Triffleman-Miller.

The people of Puerto Rico live under the jurisdiction of the United States government as a territory.  They have a delegate in Congress, similar to Washington D.C., but, again, they have no voting power.  Unlike Washington D.C., though, they cannot vote in presidential elections.  Despite these political restrictions, they still must sign up for the military draft.  Some argue that because Puerto Rico does not pay federal taxes, they should not be a state.  Statehood would come with federal taxes (it is required) and that would have a positive impact, serving as a boost to the federal reserve. 

The people of Puerto Rico are willing to pay this price as well.  If Puerto Rico became a U.S. state, Puerto Ricans would enjoy all of the benefits associated with statehood, as well as the tools required to develop their own industries and economy on the island.  In addition, statehood would increase employment, bring about income and wage benefits, and would enable the people to receive better healthcare.

In 2017, according to The Perspective, when polled over whether or not Puerto Ricans would like to join the Union, ninety-seven percent of voters responded “Yes.”  In a national poll, sixty-seven percent of Americans also said that they would support Puerto Rico’s bid for statehood.  Like D.C., Puerto Rico would also likely introduce two more Democratic senators into Congress, further bothering Republicans.  Again, the answer to this question is clear.  The people of Puerto Rico live under the United States government jurisdiction, yet have no representation.  It is clear from the polls that they are willing to pay the taxes necessary to become a state, and they have every right to be.  Both Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico should be admitted to the Union.

“If D.C. and Puerto Rico have no representation, their important voices cannot be heard,” said junior Maxwell Meehan.