Updated 4:37 p.m. | Expect humanitarian and fiscal arguments for why the District of Columbia should become the 51st state during next week’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the issue.
The witness list for the first hearing on D.C. statehood in more than two decades includes local elected officials, constitutional law experts, a civil rights leader and senior Brookings Institution fellow Alice Rivlin, the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and an expert on fiscal policy.
Rivlin, a former vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board and director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget under the first Clinton administration, has a background working with the D.C. budget. She headed the Financial Control Board in the 1990s, and joined an amicus brief this spring supporting the District’s effort to achieve budget autonomy.
Also testifying during the panel on “Equality for the District of Columbia” is Viet D. Dinh, a Georgetown Law professor who specializes in constitutional law. Dinh, also a former U.S. assistant attorney general for legal policy, Dinh wrote a 25-page opinion in 2004 bolstering an effort to give D.C. voting representation in the House. That measure was sponsored by then-Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights — another veteran of the unsuccessful fight to win D.C. a vote in the House — also will testify. Henderson is a former Washington bureau director of the NAACP, and began his career with the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2007, he testified in front of then-Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., in strong support of House representation for the District.
Roger Pilon, vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute, also join the panel. He is the founder and director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies, and has previously testified before Congress in opposition to an amendment that would have outlawed desecration of the flag.
The committee will hear from D.C.’s non-voting Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. All 13 members of the council signed a letter Wednesday to Sen. Thomas R. Carper, sponsor of the Senate’s D.C. statehood bill and chairman of the committee, asking him to move forward with a markup and floor vote after the Sept. 15 hearing.
Momentum seems to be building. Norton celebrated a record 104 House co-sponsors for her bill Wednesday, saying the “number of allies for District of Columbia statehood, including President Obama, is now at its height.”
Carper’s version of the bill is also approaching record support. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., intends to add his name as the 17th cosponsor of the legislation, an aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call on Wednesday.
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