Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., on Friday introduced a last-second motion to include provisions in the House bill to make Washington, D.C., America's 51st
Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., on Friday introduced a last-second motion to include provisions in the House bill to make Washington, D.C., America’s 51st state that would require D.C. — which would technically be a “commonwealth” — to provide protections for conservative priorities like the Second Amendment, public monuments, police funding and more.
The “motion to recommit” introduced by Keller is a procedural move that is meant to provide “one final opportunity for the House to debate and amend a measure, typically after the engrossment and third reading of the bill, before the Speaker orders the vote on final passage,” according to House rules. It was promptly shut down by a voice vote. Keller requested a recorded vote, which was postponed.
“Republicans need assurances that the interests of our constituents will be reflected in this new state that will have undue influence over the nation’s federal government,” Keller said on the House floor, addressing a point that many Republicans made in their opposition to the D.C. statehood bill.
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He added: “And so my motion contains reasonable additions to H.R. 51 that will require the president to assure certain amendments to the state constitution are incorporated before granting statehood.”
According to Keller’s office, the motion to recommit would require provisions defending gun rights and monuments; ensuring “full funding of law enforcement and public safety;” prohibiting it from being a sanctuary city; barring “autonomous zones and obstruction of law enforcement;” banning taxpayer funds being used for political campaigns; and that D.C. continues participating in a program that helps low-income children pay for private schools.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., shot back against Keller’s proposition.
“I want to urge all of our colleagues to reject this weak and unconstitutional motion to recommit,” Raskin said. “If you want to do that try to pass it for the entire country and it would apply within the new state as well… or resign your seat from wherever you happen to be from … move to the new state and then campaign as a member of Congress from here or campaign for governor or state legislature in the new state and get them to change their law, because that’s a matter of local policy.”
The debate on the House floor was impassioned Friday, with members shouting for much of the time. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said that making D.C., the seat of the federal government, a state, would be unconstitutional. He continued to say that he wanted to pass legislation allowing D.C. citizens to be exempt from federal income taxes, rather than have it become a state.
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Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., gave an impassioned address, equating D.C. statehood to a civil rights issue
“We were a segregationist party. And guess what? We said we do not want to be that kind of party. And Hubert Humphrey got up in 1948 in New York at the Democratic Convention and said we need to come out of the dark shadows of slavery and segregation and into the bright sunlight of justice and equality,” Hoyer said.
“Yes, I understand, that was our party. And we said to them, we do not want to be that party,” he continued, before turning to address Republicans. “Don’t you be that party. Don’t you have Lincoln turn over in his grave and say, ‘that’s not our party.'”
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Hoyer added: “Statehood is not merely a status. It is a recognition by the rest of the states of the sovereign equality of the people who live there, that they are part of the main, not simply an island.”
Keller, however, insinuated that Democrats are largely interested in making D.C. a state in order to secure two additional Democratic senators.
“The city is tied to the idea of the American Republic. A living piece of collaboration. The star on the map representing the fifty stars on the flag. With the creation of a 51st state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth – a state the size of a small county – that collaboration will be gone,” Keller said. “The majority believes it is a small price to pay for two senators.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.