Advocates applaud D.C. statehood budget item

Advocates of Washington, D.C.’s push for statehood status on Thursday heralded the city council’s budget inclusion of $250,000 to be used to promote the city’s independence, saying the money would be wasted if it was used to push voting representation.

City Council Chairman Vincent Gray announced on Thursday that the council was moving to allocate the money for the 2011 fiscal year to fund the nationwide push by voting rights advocates to compel Congress to pass the D.C. Voting Rights Act, as well as efforts to grant the city statehood rights.

“In the coming year, we urge the council to dedicate all of the funding to promoting full democracy — which means statehood,” said Anise Jenkins, president of statehood advocacy group Stand Up!.

“There should be no more funding for advocating for the one-vote bill, which has failed repeatedly in Congress. [It] would not provide full democratic rights, and invites members of Congress to meddle in our internal affairs, as we have seen with the proposed amendment to gut our gun laws.”

The D.C. Voting Rights Act would grant the city a representational vote in Congress. The legislation as championed by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) came close to passing both the House and the Senate this year, but has been repeatedly held up because of language included in the measure that would dramatically loosen the city’s gun laws.