Let’s review some Delegates and a Resident Commissioner from U.S. possessions which are not States and are not part of the Union as well as the city of Washington D.C.

U.S. Possessions And D.C. Serving In Congress

Op-Ed By: Phillip Davis

I indicated in my last column…“I think I just stepped in something!” only I didn’t realize how much of it I stepped into. What comes in this piece may require a stiff drink. However, we must review Article 4 Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution first—

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

Let’s review some Delegates and a Resident Commissioner from U.S. possessions that are not States and are not part of the Union and the city of Washington D.C.

The following five island groups, including Washington D.C, have a representative that sits in Congress. Yes I said congress:

  • Puerto Rico (Resident Commissioner)
  • American Samoa (Delegate)
  • Guam (Delegate)
  • Northern Mariana Islands (Delegate)
  • U.S. Virgin Islands (Delegate)
  • Washington D.C.

The fact that these non-states are represented in congress in the first place and can speak on the House floor, introduce bills, and even offer amendments is outrageous! Though they cannot vote for a bill, the Delegates and Resident Commissioner can serve on House committees. They possess the same authority that other committee members have when discussing possible future legislation; they even head those committees.

Who’s to say that a vote from one of these people won’t cause a subject to pass a House committee, end up as legislation and then pass; this reeks of an unconstitutional condition. These non-states can actually impact the 50 states. Finally, our own congress allowed and approved this condition to exist in the first place.

Our country is indeed generous to these non-states, allowing them such latitude in congress and not be a state and welfare. I understand the strategic value to the United States in keeping these islands, but to serve in congress is above and beyond common sense and can degrade the 50 States through passed legislation.

What follows now is just as troubling as those non-states that have people in congress, but maybe even more egregious, if that’s possible, and it concerns an area known as Washington D.C.

There is a resident in the D.C. area that sits in congress, and this delegate has the same privileges of the other non-state delegates and sits in on committees, votes in those committees, heads committees, and can even offer legislation. How can a citizen of the Washington D.C. area sit in congress, as D.C. is not an island or a possession? This can’t possibly be Constitutional.

The current representative from the Washington area is Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton. She calls herself a Congresswoman and is in her 15th term, and pushes D.C. Statehood. Just look at what this person currently serves on in congress—

Committees

House Committee on Oversight and Reform

  • Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
  • Subcommittee on Government Operations

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

  • Chair, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
  • Subcommittee on Aviation
  • Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
  • Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials

I would list the Caucuses Norton is one but they are entirely too long to list here.

The map from my previous column on “Acquiring State Land, Enough Already” serves a purpose just as well here. Look at Washington D.C. on the below map with a red dot in the center of the black star; that’s Washington D.C., and the people who live there want to turn that area into the 51st State; are you kidding me? It’s not enough the 4 richest counties in America surround Washington D.C.; it may be due to how well government employees are paid with our tax dollars and retiree in the area that enriches it.

If you look very closely at the above map (one may need a magnifying glass) you can see Washington D.C. the home of our federal government marked with a black star. I placed a small red ink dot in the middle of that star, that’s about the land area of Washington D.C.
It is long past due to shut down this nightmarish situation of a citizen that is a resident of D.C. sitting in congress and on committees. And also time to make changes to these non-state island chains with congressional Delegates and a Resident Commissioner that serve on House committees in congress. Will a congressman introduce a bill to end this crazy situation, unlikely, or maybe our citizens will rise up and demand this outrage end immediately, also unlikely. In both instances, we may as well pass the liquor bottle so we can numb our senses to this “topsy-turvy” mad, mad world known as Washington D.C.
Washington D.C.

It is long past due to shut down this nightmarish situation of a citizen that is a resident of D.C. sitting in congress and on committees. And also time to make changes to these non-state island chains with congressional Delegates and a Resident Commissioner that serve on House committees in congress.

Will a congressman introduce a bill to end this crazy situation? Unlikely, or maybe our citizens will rise up and demand this outrage end immediately, also unlikely. In both instances, we may as well pass the liquor bottle so we can numb our senses to this “topsy-turvy” mad, mad world known as Washington D.C.

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One Reply to “U.S. Possessions And D.C. Serving In Congress”

  1. As someone who has been involved with the U.S. territories in one capacity or another for over 50 years, I must congratulate the author of this op-ed piece for his description of the powers of the congressional delegates. Very few issues are actually decided on the floor and the current Speaker has stated that she will not even bring a measure to the Floor unless she has the votes, so the term “non-voting” delegate is a misnomer at best and does not even appear anywhere in the formal House Rules that govern the body. Although he failed to mention that delegates and the resident commissioner are full voting members of their party caucuses, accrue seniority on the same basis as other members (necessary to become eligible to chair committees), can run for leadership positions, vote for their party’s candidate for speaker and, in fact, could themselves be elected speaker, he has done the most thorough job I have seen of any journalist showing awareness of the influence these House members possess. In fact, I recall one wire service reporter whose full time assignment was to cover Congress, expressing shock when she miscounted by two the Republican Conference vote for John Boehner as speaker, totally forgetting the two Republicans from the islands. Of course, I completely disagree with his conclusion that the Americans in the islands should be disenfranchised in Congress when through no fault of their own they live in a jurisdiction not a state but I do salute him for doing his homework in describing their representation in Washington.

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