Writing A Briefing Paper

Writing A Briefing Paper-30
Since1970, however, the District has had a nonvoting delegate in the House of Representatives.

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Demographically, approximately 66% of DCs residents are African- American, 32% are white, and 5% are Hispanic.

Nearly 80% are registered Democrats as opposed to 7% who are Republicans.

The District of Columbia was established in 1800 when Maryland and Virginia ceded land to the federal government for a national capital. Today DC covers 61 square miles and has a population of approximately 600,000 people.

While no existing state occupies so little territory, the Districts population is greater than that of three states (Alaska, Wyoming and Vermont) and nearly equal to that of three others.

Since that time, multiple statehood bills have been introduced, although none were seriously entertained by the Republican-controlled 104th Congress. territories have been granted statehood when they achieved a sufficient population base; DCs population is comparable to that of six existing states. The present governing arrangement is unlikely to ever work.

However, President Clinton supports statehood and the current platform of the Democratic Party recites: [W]e believe all Americans have a right to fair political representationincluding the citizens of the District of Columbia who deserve full self-governance, political representation, and statehood (1996 Democratic Platform). DC residents are being deprived of fundamental political rights. More specifically: Congress, as a large national body, is not equipped to manage local city affairs; a state government, elected by the people of DC, would be a more accountable, and therefore a more effective, government. Statehood would enable DC to deal with regional problems such as crime, transportation and pollution on a better footing with the surrounding states. Despite its small size and current financial woes, DC can become economically self-sustaining with tourism, communications, and other high-tech industries. The alternative of ceding DC back to Maryland is not viable since it is doubtful that Maryland would want to assume the problems of DC and DC residents have declared their desire to remain a distinct political entity by their statehood vote. Historically, no territory has been granted statehood until it was economically viable; DCs small land base and limited industrial potential makes it unlikely that it will ever attain the stable, diverse, and self- supporting economy necessary for statehood. DC is essentially a city; no other city in America has statehood status or voting representation in Congress. DCs dismal record of home rule (government corruption, massive waste, and insolvency) demonstrates that the population is not capable of assuming the additional governing responsibilities of statehood. The historical reason for making the nations capital a separate districti.e., to safeguard federal independenceis still applicable today. DC would lose the substantial federal support that it currently enjoys as a result of its unique situation; this in turn, would lead to increased taxation of its already overburdened residents. Many of DCs problems (e.g., crime, transportation, pollution) are regional in nature; statehood would only make solutions more difficult by creating yet another small bureaucracy and further governmental fragmentation. At least two superior alternatives to statehood exist: the District (exclusive of core government buildings) could be ceded back to Maryland, giving DC residents the full benefits of statehood; or DC could remain a federal district but given: (a) full voting representation in the Congress (this would require renewal of the constitutional amendment that previously failed); and (b) a new Home Rule Charter that would reform the existing government and give DC residents more local autonomy. The District of Columbia does not have sufficient physical size and economic viability to assume the substantial managerial and fiscal responsibilities that statehood entails.

By a variety of measures, DC is in serious trouble: The city is insolvent, and its tax base continues to erode despite large federal subsidies to compensate for federal buildings that cannot be legally taxed.

The District's populationonce as high as 800,000has been rapidly declining.

In comparison with the states, DC typically leads the nation in per capita violent crime, infant mortality, and number of welfare recipients (Bureau of the Census). Constitution, the Congress officially governs the District of Columbia.

Its public schools are among the nations worst (Niskanen). In 1973, Congress granted the District limited home rule by allowing residents to elect a mayor and city council.


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