WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump this week explained why he believes the District of Columbia will never become the 51st state, despite activists’ best efforts: too many Democrats.
Republicans in Congress would have to be “very, very stupid” to allow D.C. statehood because the city’s overwhelmingly Democratic population would likely elect two Democratic senators, swelling the party’s ranks.
“D.C. will never be a state,” Trump told the New York Post this week. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.”
The slight comes weeks after Congress passed a coronavirus relief bill that treated D.C. like a territory, shortchanging it by about $755 million, to the outrage of Democrats in the region.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting delegate to Congress, said Trump’s opinion on statehood is irrelevant because he may be voted out of office this year, and her party may have a chance to take control of the Senate.
“This is the predicable view not only of this president but of Republicans in the House House and perhaps even the Senate,” the Democrat said. “The District should pay no attention to this.”
Statehood advocates hope the majority-Democratic House this year will pass Norton’s legislation shrinking the nation’s capital to a two-square-mile enclave, encompassing the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and other federal buildings.
The rest of D.C. would become the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, named for the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who lived in Washington for the last part of his life.
The legislation has more than the minimum 218 co-sponsors needed for passage; no Republicans are on record in support of statehood.
Although she said she has not spoken with Joe Biden lately, Norton said the former vice president would support statehood if a bill landed on his desk as president.
In his interview with the New York Post, Trump framed his objection to statehood in starkly political terms.
“They want to do that so they pick up two automatic Democrat — you know it’s a 100 percent Democrat, basically — so why would the Republicans ever do that?” he said. “That’ll never happen unless we have some very, very stupid Republicans around that I don’t think you do. You understand that, right?”