D.C. prepares for 1st House statehood hearing in 25 years

The House Oversight Committee will discuss H.R. 51, a bill which seeks to make the District of Columbia the 51st state.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
American flags fly at sunset with 51 instead of the usual 50 stars, along Pennsylvania Ave., part of a display in support of statehood for the District of Columbia, Sept. 15, 2019, in Washington.

About 140 United States flags bearing an extra star are flying along Pennsylvania Avenue as Washington, D.C., prepares for its first House hearing on U.S. statehood in a quarter century.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser led a caravan toward the U.S. Capitol on Monday to symbolize the city's fight for congressional voting rights.

The Washington Post reported that mayoral spokeswoman LaToya Foster said the event and flags cost about $31,200, which came out of the $1 million that city lawmakers set aside to fight for statehood.

The bill set to be discussed Thursday by the Oversight Committee has more than 200 co-sponsors and the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, both Democrats. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block a companion bill that has more than 30 sponsors.

Also up for discussion at the hearing may be an ongoing scandal involving D.C. Councilman Jack Evans. Mr. Evans resigned from his role as the chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board this summer after an internal investigation determined that he failed to disclose a profitable conflict of interest.

The findings by the Metro ethics committee were initially kept confidential, enabling Mr. Evans, his lawyer and former board member Corbett Price to lie about the findings and claim Mr. Evans had been cleared of wrongdoing. Authorities in Maryland and Virginia, along with local leaders, called for the committee to release its findings, and the committee soon yielded. Mr. Evans and Mr. Price later resigned, with Mr. Price citing a family matter and upcoming surgery as his reasons for leaving his role as a District voting representative on the board.

Mr. Evans also lost his role as the City Council's finance committee chair and is under investigation by the council and federal authorities. Email records show he flaunted his roles and record as the longest serving District lawmaker when pitching himself to local law firms, offering to use his connections and influence to benefit their clients. He also has accused of supporting projects and tax incentives involving clients. Federal agents searched his home in June just before he resigned from the transit board.

Two House Republicans sent a letter Monday to Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings asking for Mr. Evans to testify at the Thursday hearing. They wrote that Mr. Evans needs to be questioned, because he would effectively become a state legislator if D.C. were to become a state.

"As our Committee considers legislation concerning DC Statehood, the Committee must fully assess the cloud of scandal surrounding DC Councilmember Jack Evans," reads the letter by Reps. Jim Jordan, of Ohio, and Mark Meadows, of North Carolina.

According to the Post, the GOP request appears unlikely to be granted. Critics of D.C. statehood have long cited local corruption as a reason to deny the city congressional voting rights.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson decried the attempt to tie the two issues together at a news conference on Monday.

"In my view, that's not in any way disqualifying of whether citizens of the District should have full rights of citizenship and a vote for members of Congress," he said.

This story was reported by The Associated Press with information from The Washington Post. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.