A Real Plan for DC Voting Rights and Home Rule
The Maryland and District of Columbia Reunification Act of 2021
An Act retroceding the District of Columbia to the State of Maryland
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE
This Act may be cited as the “Maryland and District of Columbia Reunification Act of 2021”
SECTION 2. FINDINGS
The Congress finds the following:
- The entire territory of the current District of Columbia was originally a part of the State of Maryland. It was ceded to the United States in 1791 to form part of the nation’s capital city.
- The portion of the original District of Columbia ceded to the United States by the Commonwealth of Virginia to form the balance of the capital city was successfully retroceded back to that State in 1846.
- Since the federal government has supreme authority over all land and facilities it owns throughout the United States, including Maryland, it is not necessary for there to be a separate federal jurisdiction outside the boundaries of any state for the federal government to carry out its functions without state interference.
- Maintaining the District of Columbia as a federal jurisdiction outside the boundaries of any state unnecessarily and unjustly deprives its residents of voting representation in Congress.
- Upon the effective date of a retrocession of the District of Columbia to the State of Maryland, there will no longer be a separate district outside of a state constituting the seat of Government of the United States.
SECTION3. RETROCESSION OF THE DISTRICT OF COUMBIA TO MARYLAND
- The District of Columbia is hereby retroceded to the State of Maryland, effective on the date that consent is granted to such retrocession by the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia.
- Upon the retrocession effective date, no electors of President and Vice-President shall be appointed by the 23rd amendment of the US Constitution.
For further information about this legislative proposal, please contact:
John Forster, Activities Coordinator, Committee for the Capital City
DC Voting Rights
Our plan calls for Congress to immediately restore the right of DC residents to vote as if we were Marylanders for the sole purpose of federal representation in Congress.
History supports our approach. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, giving Congress the power to establish an enclave to be the seat of the federal government, what is now the District of Columbia was a part of the state of Maryland. In 1791, Washington was ceded to the federal government for the purpose of becoming the nation’s capital city. District residents continued to vote in Maryland’s federal elections and even run for and win Maryland congressional elections. Georgetown resident Uriah Forrest was elected to Congress in 1792 and served in the third Congress, 1793 to 1795, representing Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District. In 1801, the Organic Act was enacted by Congress, effectively eliminating the right of DC residents to vote in Maryland’s elections. Since Congress took away by statute our right to be represented in Congress by Maryland’s federal legislators, Congress can similarly restore that right by statute. To that end, the Committee for the Capital City has worked closely with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to reestablish this right. He has introduced a bill in Congress (HR 665 – The District of Columbia Voting Rights Restoration Act of 2009) that would restore the DC federal voting rights that Congress took away in 1801. Under this approach, DC residents would be represented in the US Senate by Maryland’s two Senators and in the US House of Representatives by a Representative whose district would be essentially similar to the current DC district but apportioned as part of the Maryland delegation.
DC Home Rule
In addition to supporting voting rights in Congress for DC residents equal to that of all other Americans, the Committee for the Capital City also recognizes that DC residents need to have home rule so that the laws that they must live under are the responsibility of locally elected officials. The best way to accomplish this goal is to reestablish the city of Washington as a unique, home-rule city in the State of Maryland. This proposal maintains the unique character of Washington as the city that is home to the national government. Washington would continue with its present boundaries and elected officials.
When the country was founded, what is now the District of Columbia was originally a part of the state of Maryland. In 1791, the District of Columbia was created by ceding land from both Maryland and Virginia to be used for the site of a permanent US capital city. When Congress established a local government in DC in 1801, DC residents lost their ability to vote in Maryland and Virginia. Efforts began immediately to return privately held land back to their original states. The effort in Virginia succeeded in 1847. The area that is now Arlington County and the City of Alexandria was ceded back to Virginia and removed from the District of Columbia. This process of retrocession can be used today to return Washington to Maryland.
With the renewed status of being a part of the State of Maryland instead of a federal enclave under the exclusive legislative control of Congress, the citizens of Washington would have four representatives in the Maryland State Senate and twelve members in the Maryland House of Delegates. Washington voters would also gain the representation of the Maryland Governor and other statewide officials. As a part of Maryland, DC residents could expect lower state income tax rates and a more efficient local government that would have the potential to deliver better local services through a combination of economies of scale and additional government resources to draw upon.
The State of Maryland would gain under our plan an additional Congressional District and electoral vote as well as the pride and prestige of becoming the home State in the eyes of the world to the capital city of the United States of America. With the city of Washington becoming the twenty-fifth local jurisdiction, Maryland gains 600,000 new residents who would by their addition make Maryland richer, more highly educated, and more Democratic.
It Can Be Done!
Our plan can gain the support of DC residents, the State of Maryland, and Congress. DC residents gain home rule and voting representation in Congress equal to that of all other Americans. Maryland expands back to its original size and gains the most important city in the world. Congress frees itself from the task of overseeing a local city and ends the international embarrassment of taxation without representation in its own capital city.
We support political empowerment and full citizenship for the people of Washington, DC. If you agree that Maryland-based solutions make sense, join with us in making it a reality. The Committee for the Capital City is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization and your contribution is tax-deductible.