Statehood for D.C. Too?

A new ad running in Puerto Rico argues for statehood for Washington, D.C. — but not for Puerto Rico.

The ad draws connections between the position of Puerto Rico and that of D.C. “We believe that all Americans deserve equality. That’s why we support statehood for the District of Columbia and economic justice for Puerto Rico,”says Puerto Rican actor Esai Morales,  who appears with Shadow Senator Paul Strauss in the ad.

“Like Puerto Rico, D.C. residents have no representation in Congress,” Strauss says, referring to the fact that both the District of Columbia and the territory of Puerto Rico have only a non-voting representative in Congress and no representatives in the Senate.

While the ad doesn’t support statehood for Puerto Rico, it seems that the statehood for D.C. activists are hoping that the people of Puerto Rico will have compassion for the plight of D.C. The city must have its budget approved by Congress and has only a small voice in the legislature. Congress can change laws passed in D.C. and is also in charge of the courts and the prison system. However, residents of Washington, D.C., are allowed to vote in presidential elections.

D.C. got the vote through a constitutional amendment passed in 1961. Before that time they were not allowed to vote for president. D.C. gained limited political autonomy in 1973, but there have been efforts to gain statehood for D.C. since 1800.

There are roughly 672,228 people living in Washington, D.C., so it would not be the least populous state if it became a state. Puerto Rico has about 3.5 million residents, a larger population than many of the current states. People born in both Puerto Rico and D.C. are natural-born citizens of the United States, just as in the 50 states.

D.C. has tried strategizing with Puerto Rico for statehood in the past. It is traditional — though not required — to admit new states in pairs.

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