Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t think turning the District of Columbia in to a state will make much difference on a national scale.
During a conference called Problem Solvers hosted by the non-profit group No Labels, Christie told the crowd he hasn’t really thought much about the D.C. statehood issue, The Washington Times reports.
“My initial gut reaction is I don’t think adding another person to Congress is going to help. I just don’t think fundamentally it will help or make an enormous difference,” he said.
Christie said he understands the philosophical argument made by activists calling for the District to become a state, but he hasn’t thought about it enough to come up with an insightful answer.
The Constitution stipulates that only states can be represented in Congress, and since D.C. is not a state, it cannot receive voting representation.
Under current law, the District does not have voting representation in Congress, and residents got the right to vote in presidential elections in 1961, thanks to the ratification of the 23rd Amendment.
The District is represented in the House by Eleanor Holmes Norton, a non-voting delegate with powers similar to delegates from U.S. territories like the Virgin Islands and Guam.
Norton is allowed to introduce legislation and vote in congressional committees, but she can’t vote on the House floor.
D.C. also currently has two “shadow senators,” Michael Brown and Paul Strauss, who are elected by city residents through a “State” Constitution, which the District ratified in 1982, but was never approved by Congress. The shadow senators are not officially seated in the Senate, but they promote the cause of the District with senators.
Calls for D.C. statehood have varied in intensity over the years, with the closest call coming in 1993, when a D.C. statehood bill came to a vote in the House, but failed to pass by a wide margin.
Since then, representatives have introduced bills to grant D.C. statehood every year, but all have failed to reach a floor vote.
The statehood movement found an unlikely ally in Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in August, when the hotelier said he would do “whatever is good for the District of Columbia.”
Trump didn’t go so far as to say he would support statehood, but he didn’t oppose it outright.
“You know, it’s funny. I’ve really gotten to know the people, the representatives, and the mayor, and everybody. They’re really special people. They’re great. And they have a great feeling,” Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”