Fed up with lack of control over the District’s budget, Washington D.C. officials are renewing efforts to make the city America’s 51st state. Congress, however, continues to show no willingness to make it happen.
During an interview with the Washington Post editorial board, Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich — a member of Congress from 1983 through 2001 — explained, perhaps more directly than he intended to, why D.C. statehood won’t happen so long as Congress is controlled by Republicans.
Toward the end of the interview, Post Associate Editorial Page Director Jo-Ann Armao asked Kasich, “You voted against statehood for D.C. when you were in Congress… Is that still your position?”
Kasich, in response, said it “probably is.” When pressed to provide reasons, however, he stumbles.
“Probably not. I don’t know. I’d have to, I mean, to me, that’s just, I just don’t see that we really need that, okay? I don’t know. I don’t think so,” he said.
That response isn’t good enough for Armao, who continued, “But you realize though that people in D.C. pay taxes, go to war and they have no vote in Congress.”
At that point, Kasich reveals the real source of his instinctive opposition.
KASICH: Well look, I am not — I don’t — I am not, because you know what, what it really gets down to if you want to be honest is because they know that’s just more votes in the Democratic Party. That’s what–
ARMAO: So if there were Republicans in the District, you would have a different position?
KASICH: Yeah, okay, well look, they send me a bill, I’m president of the United States, I’ll read your editorials.
HIATT: Okay! You’ve got our endorsement.
In other words, Kasich opposes D.C. statehood for partisan reasons — he doesn’t want Republicans in Congress to lose power.
Kasich later backtracks a bit, acknowledging D.C. statehood proponents have a point and adding, “Maybe I’ll have to flip flop my position, okay? I don’t know. Let me look at it. Let me think about it.”
Regarding the taxation without congressional representation issue, Kasich said, “I mean, that’s a good point. It’s kind of hard for me to argue against it. I’d have to hear what the argument is. I’ll call my friend [former Virginia congressman] Tom Davis. He’ll tell me the way to think about this.”
In a separate Post piece, Davis, who tried to pass a measure seven years ago to give the District one voting member in the House, said, “Statehood remains a nonstarter.”
“D.C. has never been a two-party city… so you’re not going to find Republicans willing to just give Democrats two Senate seats,” he added.
Congress last voted on a D.C. statehood proposal in 1993, when Kasich was in the House. In that chamber, the measure failed by a 277–153 margin, with all but one Republican voting against it.