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Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) said that the Constitution would have to be amended to grant Washington, D.C., statehood, in comments to the media on Friday.
Manchin cited findings by the Justice Department under presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, as well as comments by former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy in 1963 following the passage of the 23rd Amendment. That amendment granted the District of Columbia electors in the Electoral College, but stopped short of making the city a state.
“Bobby Kennedy said in 1963 that Congress and the states” chose to give Washington, D.C., electors but not statehood “in the form of a constitutional amendment,” Manchin told WVNews on Friday. “Hence, it is arguable that the choice can now be reconsidered only by means of another constitutional amendment.”
Manchin repeated the argument in a radio interview with West Virginia MetroNews’s Hoppy Kercheval.
Carter, Reagan, and Kennedy “all came to the same conclusion: If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment. It should propose a constitutional amendment and let the people of America vote,” Manchin said.
Manchin’s position likely means that Senate Democrats will not be able to advance a bill passed by the House that grants statehood to the nation’s capital city. The Senate is currently tied between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.
Voters in the District of Columbia lean heavily Democratic, meaning that granting the capital statehood would likely give Democrats two additional Senate seats in Congress.