Forget the District of Columbia ever becoming a state any time soon, President Manchin won't allow it.
Sen. Joe Manchin III told reporters in his home state of West Virginia on Friday morning that he does not support the bill to make D.C. the nation’s 51st state, according to audio provided by the Democrat’s office and a report from WVNews.
Manchin, a key swing vote in the closely divided Senate, said he believed a constitutional amendment, rather than legislation, would be required to admit D.C. as a state. His stance deals a major blow to statehood advocates who were hoping for his support after the bill passed the House last week.
Manchin cited findings from the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and comments from then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in reaching his decision.
“They 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 in a radio interview with Hoppy Kercheval of West Virginia’s MetroNews, the full audio of which was provided to The Washington Post by Manchin’s staff.
Manchin was among four in the Senate Democratic caucus who had yet to reveal their positions on statehood; all the other Democratic senators have said they support the idea, but Republicans have been vocally opposed. (One Democrat, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, co-sponsored a statehood bill in the last Congress but has not signed on as a co-sponsor this year.)
The Washington, D.C. Admission Act passed the House 216 to 208 last week, along strict party lines, for the second time in history. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said that “we will try to work a path to get [statehood] done.”
Forget it, Chuck. It's Manchintown.