Instigator / Pro

Washington D.C. should become a state of the United States of America

Debating

Waiting for contender's argument

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Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Politics
Time for argument
One week
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
30,000
Contender / Con
Description
Rules:
R1 - Opening Arguments
R2 - Rebuttals 1
R3 - Rebuttals 2
R4 - Final rebuttals
R5 - Conclusions
No new points in R4.
Forfeit = instant loss
Round 1
Published:
Motion: Washington D.C. should become a state of the United States of America

Preamble

I was inspired to start this debate by watching a segment from the American TV show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver where he explored this exact issue. My arguments will be based on his line of argument but will be built from research, facts and figures all researched and individually sourced by myself. I am proud to take the PRO position for this debate and I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. I look forward to CON's arguments.

Burdon of Proof:

PRO has the burden of proof to provide evidence that Washington DC should become the 51st state of the United States of America and CON has the burden to either this prove my evidence and claims or to give evidence and reason often as to why Washington DC should not be a state or both. 

Definitions

WashingtonD.C. (also known as simply Washington or D.C. and officially as the District of Columbia) is defined as the capital of the United States located on the Potomac River bordering the states of Maryland and Virginia, [1]

become a state of the United States of America is defined as to be admitted into the Union under Article 4, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution [2] with 
all necessary amendments to the Constitution and the unanimous consent of all other existing states to allow this as required to make Washington D.C. a co-equal state of the United States of America. [3]

Congressional Representatives

In its current position, Washington DC lacks full congressional representation with them having a non-voting delegate and a shadow representative in the House of Representatives and two shadow senators in the Senate. [4] The shadow representative and senators have absolutely no rights with them turning up being the maximum they are allowed to do whereas the nonvoting delegate does have the ability to be a member of a Congressional committee, to speak on the House floor, introduce bills and offer amendments but it prevented on voting for any bills on the House floor. [5] [6] [7]

This is taking away the rights of 700,00 Americans to their votes in Congress. Washington D.C. has a population higher than that of Wyoming and Vermont, so a lack of people is no excuse for this undemocratic system. [11] [16] It also has a higher GDP than 18 other states. [12] [13]

Local Representatives

In 1996, Washington D.C was granted 'Home Rule' allowing the election of a Mayor of D.C. and D.C. City Council members, however, all laws and budget are subject to Congressional approval with Congress often adding riders to budgets to take funding away from things that D.C. City Council has voted through. For a bill to become law in D.C., it must first be passed by the elected representatives in the D.C. Council and signed by the mayor. It then needs to pass a 30-day Congressional review where members of Congress can amend, prevent the budget to allow it or even stop it coming into force altogether. [8]

Examples of this include:
  • In the late 1980s, Congress stopped D.C. using its own taxation money to fund a needle exchange programme. In the 9 years that it was denied the programme, more than 1,500 needle users were diagnosed with HIV. Between 2008 and 2013, when it finally received the funding diagnosis of HIV linked to needle-use fell by 87% [9] [10]
  • In 2011, Congress blocked DC from using its own money from being spent on abortion services for low-income women. [10] 
  • In 2009, the Senate passed a bill that would give D.C. full Congressional voting rights but added an amendment that would have permanently removed all gun control laws including their ban on semi-automatic rifles and it would have also removed criminal penalties for the possession of unlicensed firearms which killed the bill. [10] [14] [15]
This is clearly undemocratic with the citizens of D.C. not having equal voting rights and the ability of self-determination as every other state in the union has. Even if that 2009 Bill would have passed, Congress could have still changed their laws and budget as they get that power from the Constitution which is why statehood is required.

Sources

Published:
Thanks, PoliceSheep, for creating this debate. I am sure it will be an interesting one.

I don't have much of a preamble, so let's just jump straight in.

Definitions:
The two definitions you provided suffice.

Abbreviations:
DC - Washington, D.C.

The Precedent If DC Becomes a State:
DC is a city of 600,000 to 700,000 people. The geographical size of DC is only 68 square miles - significantly smaller than the smallest state in America, Rhode Island, which is 1,214 square miles. DC is even smaller than Chicago, Illinois, which is 234 square miles and has a population of more than two and a half million people. If DC were to become a state, the precedent would be set for any major city in the country to become a state.

Problems With Bias:
The head of the Executive Branch, the President of the United States, could become partial to one specific state - DC. I want my President to be concerned about the country's wellbeing over one state. Turning DC into a state opens the door for tyranny to waltz into America.

The U.S. Constitution:
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution lays out the powers of Congress, and includes the following:
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings
Essentially, this is saying that Congress can make a district to be the Capital, and it shall be a district, not a state, and the district shall be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States Congress.

Alternative Solution:
You may notice that in Article 1, Section 8, the Constitution says such a district is not to exceed ten miles square (or, in today's terms, ten square miles). DC is nearly 70 square miles, so it may be beneficial to make DC much smaller and give the rest of what is currently DC to Maryland or Virginia. DC should not be a state and is protected by the Constitution as a district.

Sources:
Round 2
Published:
I thank CON for their opening arguments in R1. I will now give comment and rebuttals for their content. I implore CON to do the same, as set out in the debate description. All block quotes are the words of CON.

"The Precedent if DC becomes a State"

DC is a city
DC is declared a city by CON without a source. This can easily be excused as it could easily be a natural assumption, however, it is not a clear cut case. It is important to define a city.

"In the United States, an incorporated city is a legally defined government entity, with powers delegated by the state and county" [17]

As D.C. is outside the boundaries of any state and/or county, it cannot be legally defined, under US law, as a city. The same source that I used to define D.C. itself backs this up by stating "[D.C.] is neither a state nor a city; it is a territory." [1]

With this understanding, this argument can be simplified and rejected by use of a modus tollens ("mode of taking")

P1: If a city becomes a state, it creates a bad precedent.
P2: D.C. is not a city
C1: Therefore, D.C. becoming a state does not create a bad precedent.

If DC were to become a state, the precedent would be set for any major city in the country to become a state.
This is incorrect because of a key distinction. D.C. is not under any state's authority whereas all other cities in the union are. The U.S. constitution makes creating a new state from land already in a state unconstitutional. It specifically states "but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State" [2][20]

Also, there is little reason for any other city to become a state as they already have Congressional representation.

 The geographical size of DC is only 68 square miles - significantly smaller than the smallest state in America, Rhode Island, which is 1,214 square miles. 
I do not believe geographical size should be used as a measure of what should or should not be a state. I have already established that Washington D.C. surpasses other states in the areas of population and GDP which I propose are much better indicators of what should become a state.

"Problems with Bias"
 [The President] could become partial to one specific state - DC. I want my President to be concerned about the country's wellbeing over one state. Turning DC into a state opens the door for tyranny to waltz into America.
CON fails to explain why Washington D.C. would make the President partial to D.C. as they already have (since 1961) electoral votes as bestowed to them under the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution. [18] [19] 

I would hope that all people want the President of the United States to be concerned with all states of the Union. 

CON has failed to explain why tyranny is in any way a logical sequitur to D.C. statehood.

"The U.S. Constitution"

CON explains the current constitutional position of Washington D.C. under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. PRO accepts this explanation as fact. 

However, this is completely irrelevant as the  "become a state of the United States of America" as is the wording of the motion before us, both CON and PRO agreed that the definition, including the key part "with all necessary amendments to the Constitution" meaning in the event of D.C. statehood, this part of the constitution would be repealed rendering it irrelevant to this debate.

"Alternative Solution"

CON has laid out an imaginative solution to the issue that has been proposed in Congress before such as by Rep. Dan Lungren having proposed returning most parts of the city to Maryland, however it has several fatal flaws. [21] [22]

Primarily, any US citizen still living in the 10 sq. mi. would still be without a vote in Congress which would still be unacceptable.

A practical issue would also follow of do you keep the 23rd amendment giving just 10 sq. mi. 3 electoral votes? If you do, it would give a huge amount of electoral power to a tiny fraction of people, and if you don't, then it takes the basic American democratic right to elect the President. A bill put before Congress once suggested this without the 23rd amendment, but was voted down. [23]

Sources



Published:
Thanks, PoliceSheep for the response.

I will start with rebutting your R1 arguments / proving the points irrelevant or unnecessary.


Congressional Representatives

In its current position, Washington DC lacks full congressional representation with them having a non-voting delegate and a shadow representative in the House of Representatives and two shadow senators in the Senate. [4] The shadow representative and senators have absolutely no rights with them turning up being the maximum they are allowed to do whereas the nonvoting delegate does have the ability to be a member of a Congressional committee, to speak on the House floor, introduce bills and offer amendments but it prevented on voting for any bills on the House floor. [5] [6] [7]
While this is true, this does not mean DC needs statehood. DC could easily be given two senators and representatives based on the population without becoming a state. All necessary amendments to the Constitution could be added.


This is taking away the rights of 700,000 Americans to their votes in Congress. Washington D.C. has a population higher than that of Wyoming and Vermont, so a lack of people is no excuse for this undemocratic system. [11] [16] It also has a higher GDP than 18 other states. [12] [13]
First of all, if they were given voting rights without becoming a state, they would have their votes in Congress - problem solved.

Secondly, you mentioned that because of DC's high population, lack of people is not an excuse. This means if the population were significantly lower, you would consider it a viable excuse. Well, under the aforementioned 10-square-mile idea, the population would greatly decrease.

Local Representatives

In 1996, Washington D.C was granted 'Home Rule' allowing the election of a Mayor of D.C. and D.C. City Council members, however, all laws and budget are subject to Congressional approval with Congress often adding riders to budgets to take funding away from things that D.C. City Council has voted through. For a bill to become law in D.C., it must first be passed by the elected representatives in the D.C. Council and signed by the mayor. It then needs to pass a 30-day Congressional review where members of Congress can amend, prevent the budget to allow it or even stop it coming into force altogether. [8]
Of course Congress has to be in control of DC's "government." If DC were a state, they would need a state-level Government. If this were the case, the Federal Government and State Government would be fighting over the jurisdiction of the White House and other Federal buildings.


This is clearly undemocratic with the citizens of D.C. not having equal voting rights and the ability of self-determination as every other state in the union has. Even if that 2009 Bill would have passed, Congress could have still changed their laws and budget as they get that power from the Constitution which is why statehood is required.
While I agree that parts of the current system are undemocratic, the solution is not to make DC a state.


Round 3
Published:
I thank my opponent for his argument.

Congressional Representatives & Local Representatives

CON's core argument relies on the premise that statehood is not required in order to give the same power as states and it can simply be done through constitutional amendments.

  1. While this is true, this does not mean DC needs statehood. DC could easily be given two senators and representatives based on the population without becoming a state. All necessary amendments to the Constitution could be added.
  2. First of all, if they were given voting rights without becoming a state, they would have their votes in Congress - problem solved.
  3. While I agree that parts of the current system are undemocratic, the solution is not to make DC a state.
This is simply not a strong argument. The benefits of having a state government over a council are numerous -  most notably the ability to have an elected State Governor with department secretaries. [24] CON admits this is a deficit himself by stating:
If DC were a state, they would need a state-level Government.
Jurisdiction
Of course Congress has to be in control of DC's "government." [...]  If this were the case, the Federal Government and State Government would be fighting over the jurisdiction of the White House and other Federal buildings.
The last time that Congress debated D.C. statehood was in the form of H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. [25] [28] It specifically stated that the state of DC would have no jurisdiction over the White House or any other Federal building. [26] [27] This renders the argument moot.

"10 Square Miles"

Throughout the debate, CON has made frequent reference to the 10 square mile argument. However, he has an incorrect interpretation of the US Constitution. The following is Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 of the US Constitution. [29]

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
This is understood to mean that the District cannot exceed “ten Miles square”. This language means “a square with a side of 10 miles”, or 100 square miles—not 10 square miles with the figure being confirmed in the Residence Act of 1790. [30]

The current size of Washington D.C. is 68.3401 sq. mi. which is under the 100 sq. mi. maximum. [1]

Sources





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Added:
--> @PaulVerliane
Indeed. Puerto Rico should also be a state
Instigator
#40
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
That's my key point.
Instigator
#39
Added:
--> @PoliceSheep
I guess I should have specified it was presidental elections
#38
Added:
Who cares how they vote. If you put your partisanship on either side away, you will clearly see US CITIZENS without proper representation. That is objectively wrong
#37
Added:
--> @Dr.Franklin
In the 42nd and 43rd Congress, they elected Republican Norton Chipman as the non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives.
Instigator
#36
Added:
--> @PoliceSheep
really?? prove it
#35
Added:
--> @Dr.Franklin
Not strictly true about always voting Dem.
Instigator
#34
Added:
y puerto rico
#33
Added:
--> @PoliceSheep
It is very nice!
#32
Added:
--> @Ragnar
Thanks for the tips on the format on one of my other debates. Is this first argument any better?
Instigator
#31
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
Obama unilaterally starting DACA even after saying a few years earlier that he had no authority to do so is one example. Much of FDR's New Deal (most notably the National Recovery Administration, which ironically was called the NRA) was unconstitutional. I'll stop there, however. If I were to list every example of the R's or D's violating the Constitution, or even just the notable examples, I'd be sitting here for a very long time.
#30
Added:
--> @bmdrocks21
FACT: D.C has voted democrat in every election it's been in EVER, of course its for the democrats,LOLS
#29
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
Idgaf about partisanship, I care about principle. I hate a ton of Republicans because they don't possess conservative principles. I don't think your whole party doesn't care about the Constitution, but the radical wing definitely does not.
The Constitution never said that black people were property. It said that people had a right to their property. They interpreted that in a bad way in which slaves were considered property. (At least as far as I know.)
Sure there can be amendments, but the goal of my party is to form new amendments in the spirit of the Founding Fathers. It is applying the original point of view on modern issues. That point of view is maximizing personal freedom, while limiting the government.
If I remember correctly, McConnell invoked the Biden rule by shooting down Obama's nomination. (Not appointing new justices near the end of a term. The right should be granted to the next president).
I apologize for my harsh tone before. I think that making DC a state sounds like a decent idea on a surface level. I am a little skeptical of some underlying issues that may arise. For instance, national politicians may get more sway over local politics or the DC state may get more power because nearly every powerful government building is in the same area.
#28
Added:
--> @SirAnonymous
When im wrong, I'm wrong.
The president can do that because he is the commander in chief. He says go, they go. It isn't officially a war, but it could sure seem like it to the deployed nation.
Are there any examples of democratic constiution dodging that you know of?
#27
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
"I conceed it was not unconstitutional,"
Did you just change your mind in an internet debate? That's rare, and I congratulate you for your honesty.
"You did say you agree republicans ignore the constiution when convenient. What are your examples?"
Supporting Trump's emergency declaration is the first one that comes to mind. There are a lot of things both parties ignore, like the fact that only Congress can declare war. However, Congress regularly lets presidents of both parties get away with sending soldiers to fight foreign countries without congressional approval. Another example would be instituting price controls in the days of "stagflation" in the 70s. (I think that was Nixon, but I could be wrong. Of course, we all know what he thought of the constitution and the law).
#26
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