There’s a new push for a 51st state… but it’s probably not the one you’re thinking.
It’s commonly known that Democrats have been aching for years to turn Washington, D.C into a new state – which would give the Senate two new safely Democratic seats.
They could do it right now if the Senate eliminates the filibuster.
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But that’s not the proposal made this week.
This surprise proposal would make the 51st state out of the “other” Washington: The Evergreen State in the pacific northwest.
Four Republican members of the state’s House of Representatives introduced a bill that would create “a separate and independent state” called Liberty, carved out of the conservative eastern portions of Washington.
The move faces an uphill battle given the requirements.
While new states can be formed out of territories such as D.C. with a simple act of Congress, forming one from an existing state requires the approval of the state itself first.
That’s where the new bill in Washington’s legislature comes into play.
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It would have to be passed by the state’s House and Senate, and signed by the governor. But all three are controlled by Democrats, who are very unlikely to back a bill that would not only break up their state, but also create a new one that would send an all-Republican delegation to Washington, including two GOP senators.
Even if they somehow agreed to it, the proposal would then go to the U.S. Congress. With the House and Senate both controlled by Democrats, a move to add two Republican senators – tilting the balance of power to the GOP – and two Republican House members would be dead on arrival.
If the GOP took control in the 2022 midterms, it likely wouldn’t pass the Senate if the filibuster is still in place… and even if it did, it wouldn’t be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
So in many ways, the effort is doomed from the start. Anyhow, it’s being pushed to make a larger point about a rural conservative portion of the state tired of being pushed around by liberal coastal elites in the Seattle area.
While Liberty is unlikely to become a state, expect the issue of Number 51 to remain in the headlines for the foreseeable future as Democrats push to add Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
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The only thing standing in the way of a D.C. statehood is the filibuster, which requires 60 votes on most issues in a Senate that’s divided 50-50 (Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tie-breaking voting, tilting the chamber to the Democrats).
“After they change the filibuster, they’re going to admit the District as a state. They’re going to admit Puerto Rico as a state,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned in September. “That’s four new Democratic senators in perpetuity.”
McConnell is likely correct about D.C., which is almost certain to add two Democrats to the Senate if it ever were to become a state.
Puerto Rico, however, isn’t a guarantee for the left as the state has a history of electing Republican-aligned candidates to major posts, including the current resident commissioner, who serves as a non-voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Puerto Rico has something else in its favor as well: Statehood for the island is actually an official plank of the Republican Party platform, and the issue passed a referendum on the island in November.
On the other hand, history is working against it since no new states have been admitted since Alaska and Hawaii joined the union in 1959.