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Press Release Published: Apr 14, 2021

Comer: H.R. 51 is an Unconstitutional Attempt to Create Two New Democrat Senate Seats

Calls out Democrats for Attempting to Utilize Statehood to Force Radical Agenda and Pack the Court

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) opened today’s markup of H.R. 51 by calling out Democrats for pushing D.C. statehood to consolidate their power in Washington in order to advance their radical agenda and pack the Supreme Court.

In his remarks, Comer outlined the constitutional issues facing H.R. 51 and the tax burden D.C. statehood would place on surrounding states. He emphasized most of the American people oppose D.C. statehood and called on Congress to reject the Democrats’ latest power grab.

Below are Ranking Member Comer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.

Let’s be very clear about what H.R. 51 is all about: It’s about creating two new Democrat U.S. Senate seats. That’s what it’s about—we can end the discussion there. That’s what this bill is about and everyone in America knows that.  

This bill is part of the progressive pathway President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Schumer have to reshape America into the socialist utopia the Squad talk about.   

First, Democrats rushed $1.9 trillion in wasteful spending out the door. New York may even be routing the money it received from this bailout directly to illegal immigrants instead of working American citizens.

Next, Democrats proposed an additional $2.5 trillion in spending under the guise of infrastructure to fund pet projects like the Green New Deal. But that amount isn’t enough for progressives—they want up to $10 trillion in additional spending.

Now, President Biden is looking into packing the Supreme Court. Giving Democrats two new seats in the Senate would make this foolish idea a reality because you’re going to need three new Supreme Court seats to be able to make H.R. 51 a reality—we all know it’s unconstitutional.

If you don’t believe me, then listen to what our Oversight Committee colleague Jamie Raskin recently told the Washington Post: “But there’s a national political logic for [D.C. statehood], too, because the Senate has become the principal obstacle to social progress across a whole range of issues.”

So, our friend, Jamie Raskin admits it. You need two more Democrats in the Senate to pass all the garbage that the House has already passed to make it into law. You need two more Senate seats.

These ideas may be popular amongst progressive circles, but they ignore the issues facing America today.

Our southern border is in crisis. Half the Republicans on the Oversight Committee just returned yesterday from the border.

In March, just three months into the Biden administration, we had the most illegal border crossings in 15 years.

Our law enforcement officers, who keep our citizens safe every day, are under constant fire from Democrats who demand to defund them.

Millions of people continue to be out of jobs. Millions of small businesses are struggling, yet Democrats are determined to raise taxes on job creators.

D.C. statehood is just one more progressive issue that shows how out of touch Democrats are with the American people.

Americans have firmly rejected D.C. statehood. For years, support for statehood across the country hasn’t even reached 30 percent. Today, well over half of Americans reject D.C. statehood.

Ignoring the will of the people, however, Nancy Pelosi and the liberal Democrats are determined to press forward.

There are numerous problems with H.R. 51, the first being it is flatly unconstitutional. But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of civil rights champion Robert F. Kennedy, who said sixty years ago that granting D.C. statehood absent a constitutional amendment was “inconceivable” and would produce “an absurdity.”

Take the word of all the Justice Departments from President Kennedy’s to President Obama’s.

Take the word of John Dingell, a liberal titan, the longest serving member of congress who supported every single civil rights measure that passed before congress for 40 years.

Take the word of the Democratic-controlled Congress in 1960, which explicitly rejected statehood and instead passed the 23rd Amendment, which gave D.C. three votes in the electoral college.

Democrats even acknowledge the unconstitutionality of the bill by inserting language trying to fix it. Of course, this language is meaningless, because the only way to fix it is by a constitutional amendment.

The second problem is this bill goes flatly against what the Founding Fathers wanted for our capital city.

The Founding Fathers knew this is what D.C. would become—everything that it is today.

And they didn’t want it to be a state. In fact, they overwhelmingly rejected it.

One reason local leaders want D.C. to become a state is because it means they can expand their tax base.

Statehood would allow D.C. to tax people living in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania who work in D.C. on a daily basis.

That’s right: By supporting statehood, my colleagues—Mr. Connolly, Mr. Raskin, Mr. Mfume, and Mr. Sarbanes—are sending a message to their constituents and their governors that they will have to pay for this progressive pipe dream. Good luck explaining that.

Statehood would allow D.C. to tax all Americans who come to D.C. for a conference or for a business meeting.

It would also allow D.C. to tax hospitals, universities, and other non-profit organizations who own property in the city.

It’s no wonder statehood for D.C. is so unpopular.  

The Democrats arrogantly say that’s because the American people don’t understand what statehood means.

But my constituents in Kentucky’s First Congressional District know exactly what it means—consolidating Speaker Pelosi’s power by creating two new Senate seats to pass through the Senate all the liberal legislation that passed through the House.

If Democrats were serious about D.C. becoming a state, they would introduce a constitutional amendment, like the U.S. Constitution indicates must happen in not one, but two places.

But Democrats aren’t serious. Instead, they are setting aside the Constitution in order to give progressives a quick win so they can achieve their goals of defunding the police, packing the Supreme Court, and enacting a Green New Deal.

There is zero chance this bill would pass judicial review. The courts know better. 

The Senate knows better.

All of our constituents—who Democrats prefer to call ignorant even though they understand basic civics class—know better. 

H.R. 51 is unconstitutional and unworkable and is rejected by the American people. Congress must reject this proposal.