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CARPER: “…the reason that these senators have the ability to try to overturn a law passed by the local D.C. government is because the over 700,000 individuals who call the District of Columbia home continue to be denied full representation in Congress.”

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and longtime lead author of legislation to make D.C. the 51st state, objected to Senator Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) joint resolution (S.J. Res. 7) to overturn a local law passed by the duly elected D.C. Council. In his speech, Senator Carper emphasized the need to finally grant D.C. residents equal and fair representation in Congress. 

“…the reason that these senators have the ability to try to overturn a law passed by the local D.C. government is because the over 700,000 individuals who call the District of Columbia home continue to be denied full representation in Congress,” said Senator Carper. “For generations, those who call the District of Columbia home have been denied the right to fully participate in our democracy. That’s why we are here today. That’s why my Republican colleagues can call this vote to silence the decisions made by the local leaders that D.C. residents have voted into office.”

Carper continued, “Our nation’s capital is home to more than just monuments and museums. It is home to American families who go to work, start businesses, pay their taxes, and are still denied representation. I think it’s incumbent upon all of us who care so deeply for our democracy and the rights of all Americans, to take up the cause of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia and use our voices to call out this historic injustice and finally right this wrong.”

Earlier this year, Senator Carper reintroduced the Washington, D.C. Admission Act to grant statehood to the District of Columbia. The bill currently has 40 cosponsors. He is also a cosponsor of the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act which will give the District of Columbia autonomy over its own National Guard and police force.

Senator Carper’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, can be found below. You can view Senator Carper’s full remarks here.

“Mr. President, I respect the views of my colleagues.

“We don’t always agree on everything, or even most things. But I think it’s important that we be able to find ways to disagree without being disagreeable. I understand that the senior Senator from Utah is here today because he disagrees with a particular policy.

“That is certainly his prerogative. And he is welcome to freely register his views.

“For instance, I have heard my friend from Utah defend the principles of limited government and our system of federalism on this floor many times. I have heard him, and other colleagues of ours, argue with passion that the federal government should not be in the business of interfering in state or local matters. And yet, here we are as my Republican colleagues try to tell a local government what it can and cannot do. The senator from Utah has introduced a resolution that seeks to overturn a law passed by the duly elected Council of the District of Columbia.

“Mr. President, I’m not here to debate the merits of this law. After all, I was not elected by the people living in the District of Columbia. In fact, no one in this room today was elected by the people of the District of Columbia. But the reason that these senators have the ability to try to overturn a law passed by the local D.C. government is because the over 700,000 individuals who call the District of Columbia home continue to be denied full representation in Congress.

“Under current law, Congress reviews all legislation passed by the D.C. Council before it can become law. The District of Columbia can’t control its own budget. The Mayor of D.C. cannot even deploy the men and women of the National Guard in case of an emergency – a right that every other state executive can utilize. If this were the case for any other state or local government, there would, rightfully, be an outcry from the citizens.

“I don’t think that my colleague from Utah would take kindly to me telling the city council in Salt Lake City – a city with just under 200,000 residents – what laws it could and could not pass.And he would be right! Luckily, the fine people of Salt Lake City have a fine senator who can come to Washington, speak his mind on the Senate floor and vote to advance their interests.

“That’s all the people of Washington, D.C. are looking for. The issue of D.C. statehood is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It is simply an issue of fairness. For a nation whose founding mantra – “no taxation without representation” — inspired the longest-running experiment in democracy, we should all be ashamed that, today, more than 700,000 tax-paying Americans – over two-thirds of whom are people of color – continue to be denied a vote in Congress.

“Our nation’s capital is home to more just monuments and museums. It is home to American families who go to work, start businesses, pay their taxes, and are still denied representation. It is home to veterans and servicemembers, who have signed up to protect our freedoms, have risked their lives for our country, and are still denied the ability to have a say in our nation’s future.

It is home to the hundreds of Capitol Police officers who come to work every day at our nation’s Capital to keep us safe and are still denied a vote in the very institution they protect. For generations, those who call the District of Columbia home have been denied the right to fully participate in our democracy.

“That’s why we are here today. That’s why my Republican colleagues can call this vote to silence the decisions made by the local leaders that D.C. residents have voted into office. That’s why they can exercise this federal overreach here today. I said at the beginning of my remarks, Mr. President,  that my colleagues and I don’t always agree on everything. But I strongly agree and want to associate myself with the words of Senator Mike Lee in 2018.

“He said then, and I quote, “We should allow each unique community to develop unique solutions according to unique local preferences, and leave it at that.” Let me repeat that: “We should allow each unique community to develop unique solutions according to unique local preferences, and leave it at that. I couldn’t agree more.”

“And I think it’s incumbent upon all of us who care so deeply for our democracy and the rights of all Americans to take up the cause of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia and use our voices to call out this historic injustice and finally right this wrong. And with that, I stand opposed to Senator Lee’s joint resolution, and I yield the floor.”

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