(USA Features) In another break with his party, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin indicated Friday he is opposed to legislation that would make Washington, D.C., the 51st state, further endangering its passage which was already considered a long shot under current filibuster rules.
In an interview, Manchin, of West Virginia, said he believes that making the nation’s capital a state should be in the form of a constitutional amendment and that prior Democratic and Republican administrations have made similar observations.
“They all came to the same conclusion. If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment,” Manchin said in an interview with the West Virginia MetroNews radio network. “It should propose a constitutional amendment and let the people of America vote.”
Three-quarters of states, or 38, are needed to approve new amendments after two-thirds of each congressional chamber approve them.
Last month, the House voted to approve legislation making DC a state strictly on party lines. Were it to pass, DC would add one U.S. representative and two U.S. senators to Congress, all three of whom would almost assuredly be Democrats. Under the legislation, a small sliver of land that includes the White House, U.S. Capitol Building and the National Mall would remain a federal district, per the Constitution.
But experts have said making any part of Washington, D.C. a state would violate the Constitution because all of the land currently encompassing the district was donated by surrounding states, meaning the entire area is a federal district.
To pass the Senate, all Democrats would need to support the bill, which would pass with the 50 Republicans opposing because Vice President Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaker.
Manchin, however, does not appear to be on board.
The red state senator has also said without equivocation he also would not support eliminating or weakening the filibuster rule, which requires 60 senators to pass most legislation. Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has said the same thing.
Manchin is also among a handful of Democratic senators who have not come out and openly supported the D.C. statehood bill.
During House debate on the bill, Republicans argued it would not withstand constitutional scrutiny in federal courts.
Manchi said the same thing Friday, noting he would “tell … friends” that if they pushed statehood through legislation, “you know it’s going to go to the Supreme Court.”
“Every legal scholar has told us that, so why not do it the right way and let the people vote and see if they want a change,” Manchin said.