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Veterans Urge Sen. King To Vote For D.C. Statehood; King Signals That Support

Angus King
Robert F. Bukaty
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks at Acadia National Park, Friday, June 18, 2021, in Winter Harbor, Maine.

A veterans' group in Maine is calling on Independent Sen. Angus King to support a proposal seeking to make Washington D.C. the country's 51st state.

Perry O'Brien of Camden, a member of Defend American Democracy said Tuesday that for him, it's a matter of equal representation for an area that's home to lots of ex-military citizens.

"There are 30,000 veterans in our capital who served this country in uniform, but don't have the same rights as the rest of us. They have no voting representation in Congress. We think that's wrong," O'Brien said.

Maine's senior senator, Republican Susan Collins has already voiced her opposition to the statehood plan, saying that D.C. is a city, and more properly ought to be folded into another state, such as Maryland.

Senator King, an independent, who caucuses with the Democrats, has been one of small handful of non-Republicans who have not put their names to a D.C. statehood measure. Others include Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

But Senator King’s office responded Tuesday afternoon that King has put his support behind the "For The People Act" which includes a provision in support of D.C. statehood.

Concerns over statehood for D.C. have arisen in part from a passage in Article I of the Constitution which describes the seat of government as a district limited in size, and "separate and apart" from the other “particular States.”

King's office writes that "having given this issue serious study" King has concluded that D.C. statehood "doesn’t violate the Constitution’s District Clause or Admission Clause."

Other groups have argued that D.C.'s lack of statehood disenfranchises Black voters, who make up nearly half the district's 712-thousand residents.

If the proposal is passed, the new state would have one representative and two senators.

O'Brien says the veterans' group chose this week to urge Sen. King to support DC as the 51st state, because on July 26, 1819, Maine residents voted in favor of their own statehood, leaving Massachusetts, "never looked back."