White House threatens to veto DC statehood bill

The White House on Wednesday threatened to veto legislation that would grant Washington, D.C., statehood that is poised for a vote in the House this week.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) argued in a statement that the legislation is unconstitutional because it would violate the 23rd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The OMB said that if the legislation were to pass Congress, President Trump’s advisers would recommend that he veto the measure.

“This bill is unconstitutional because the retrocession of portions of the District of Columbia into a separate state would violate the 23rd Amendment. This Amendment, ratified in 1961, contemplates a District of the proportions then in effect as a basis for the allocation of presidential electors,” the OMB statement reads.

“If, as H.R. 51 proposes, the District were reduced to a small jurisdiction made up of essentially only Federal buildings, the 23rd Amendment would give the tiny population of individuals living within those borders the same voting power in the Electoral College as the smallest state in the country,” it continues.

The OMB also asserted that the legislation could allow D.C. to “achieve outsized authority in some respects as compared to the other 50 States.”

“For example, given its small size, the Federal capital would depend entirely on the new State of Washington, D.C., for most, if not all, of the necessary modern services, which directly implicates a concern that troubled the Framers,” its statement read.

House Democrats have scheduled a Friday vote for the legislation, which would make D.C. the 51st state and offer its roughly 700,000 residents one representative in the House and two in the Senate.

The issue of D.C. statehood has not been put to a vote since 1993. The decision to bring up the legislation came amid heightened domestic unrest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while in Minneapolis police custody.

The nation’s capital emerged as an epicenter of protests against racism and police brutality following Floyd’s death at the end of May. Trump has been scrutinized for his effort to crack down on the protests, which put him at odds with D.C. leaders.

While the bill is likely to pass the Democratic-controlled House, it is not expected to gain traction in the Republican-held Senate.

The White House on Wednesday also issued a statement opposing Democrats’ police reform legislation after describing the portion of the bill limiting the legal shield for police officers, known as “qualified immunity,” as a non-starter.

Tags DC statehood Donald Trump Office of Management and Budget OMB Veto threat White House

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