Arizona Groups Urge Senators Sinema and Kelly to Support DC Statehood


Arizona Groups Urge Senators Sinema and Kelly to Support DC Statehood

Local groups write that self-governance and full voting rights for DC residents would lift up issues important to Arizonans

Phoenix, AZ – Over two dozen Arizona nonprofit, racial justice, and voting rights groups are urging Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly to support DC statehood. The groups sent a letter today to the senators urging them to co-sponsor the Washington, DC Admission Act (S.51), which would grant the 700,000 Americans living in Washington, DC full voting rights and representation in Congress. 

The letter states: “As you know, voting rights and equity are two of the issues at the core of our organizations’ work. We have more than a decade of work in ensuring communities are protected and represented in our democracy. Statehood for Washington, DC is an issue that sits at the intersection of those issues.”

The letter comes two days after it was announced that the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee — of which Senator Sinema is a member — would hold a hearing on S. 51 next week. Currently, 46 Senators have co-sponsored the legislation; Sens. Sinema and Kelly have yet to sign on. 

“Washington, DC is 46 percent black and 11 percent Hispanic; denying these 700,000 Americans full voting rights and representation in Congress is fully rooted in systemic racism,” said Sandy Ochoa from Mi Familia Vota in Tucson. “It is time for Senators Sinema and Kelly to walk in the footsteps of John Lewis, and be a champion of voting rights.”  

The DC statehood movement received increased attention this past year, when in June 2020, President Trump ordered heavily armed troops and law enforcement into the nation’s capital to violently disperse peaceful protests so he could pose for a photo-op. Then, on January 6th, President Trump initially denied Mayor Bowser’s request to deploy the National Guard during the assault on the Capitol, resulting in one of the darkest days of American democracy.  And the very people who were most impacted by the riot –DC residents and police officers — had no voting representation in congress and so had no say in the outcome of the impeachment trial, nor on whether a January 6th Commission– which Senator Sinema promoted–would be allowed to investigate the insurrection.

Madalyn Williams, co-director and director of policy at Black Phoenix Votes said, “DC statehood is one of the most pro-Black and most urgent proposals currently under consideration in Congress. The 315,000+ Black residents of DC and their multiracial neighbors do not deserve to go a moment longer without full representation. Additionally, by granting full representation, DC’s elected officials could be held responsible for fighting for pro-Black legislation that would enhance the lives of their constituents in one of the Blackest regions of the country. In effect, DC statehood would also bring about representation for all of the Black folks around the country whose civic voices are under deliberate threat of dilution and erasure. ”

Backing equal rights for Washington, DC residents has a history of bipartisan support, with Republican support from Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Arizona’s own Senator Barry Goldwater. Additionally, S. 51 is constitutionally sound as it would carve out a federal district consisting of Congress and the White House, the national mall and monuments, and other government buildings. Congress would then approve statehood for the residential and commercial parts of DC, in the same manner all 37 states were admitted into the Union following the original 13 colonies; by a simple majority vote in Congress. 

“Granting statehood to the residents of Washington, DC would uplift issues that are critical to Arizonans like child poverty, voting rights for all citizens, gun safety, and Equal Rights for Women. Having a U.S. Senate that is more representative of our diverse nation would ensure that these critical issues have a chance in Congress.”added Pinny Sheoran of League of Women Voters of Arizona. 

The letter continues: “It is unconscionable that 700,000 Americans who pay federal taxes have no voting representation in Congress. DC has more residents than Vermont or Wyoming and pays more in taxes than 22 states. DC residents have served and died in every war America has fought and 32,000 veterans live in DC. They should be treated equally…

We appreciate your leadership on voting rights issues. As our senators, your values of supporting democracy and representation should extend from Arizona to the District… we ask that you extend the support of America’s democracy to all, and racial justice to the 700,000 residents in Washington DC and support The Washington, DC Admission Act (S. 51).”

The full text of the letter can be found here: https://bit.ly/3gyEfWI