House Republicans propose solution to DC statehood: strip it of its electoral votes

D.C. residents have been vocal for decades about how the city has a larger population than several states but limited self-government of its own. In recent years, they’ve gained the attention of Democrats nationwide who have slowly taken up the cause for D.C. statehood.

Democrats might be into D.C. statehood because they’ve been coming around to Puerto Rico statehood (arguably more so than Puerto Ricans themselves, who are divided between statehood, territory status, and independence, with just a slim majority favoring statehood) and it’s hard to justify statehood for one territory but not another, especially one territory where most residents self-identify as White but not one where a plurality of residents self-identify as Black.

Or maybe Democrats like D.C. statehood for the same reason Republicans don’t (and don’t like Puerto Rican statehood, for that matter): D.C. would likely be a solid blue state with two Democratic seats in the U.S. Senate. That’s made Republicans overtly hostile. Republican control of the Senate hinges on its safe seats and minimizing the number of competitive senate races. Democratic control could be won, they realize, by following the same pattern and locking in two new pure-blue states.

But now, Republicans aren’t just focusing on blocking D.C. statehood. A group of Republican Congress members have introduced a bill that would begin the process of adopting a constitutional amendment to strip D.C. of its electoral votes. H.J. Res 19 would repeal the 23rd Amendment, which former civics students will recognize as the one that gave D.C. residents the right to vote in presidential elections way back in 1861. Oh, sorry, 1961.

Constitutional amendments require three-fourths of the state legislatures to ratify them, so there’s little chance that this would take effect. But it’s such a stunning callous move with a clear motive: strip three electoral votes from the Democrats, just in case an election gets close enough for it to matter.