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Senator weighs in on D.C. statehood Texas city's voters back abortion ban

by Bloomberg, The Associated Press | May 3, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

Senator weighs in

on D.C. statehood

Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON -- The District of Columbia should become part of Maryland rather than a new state if it wants to ensure congressional representation for its residents, said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Collins weighed in Sunday on the issue of statehood after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill in April that would make the district the 51st state.

"Washington, D.C., is a city; it's not a state," Collins said on CNN's "State of the Union." "Now, there is a way to ensure that the residents of D.C. have voting representation in Congress, and that is for D.C. to become part of Maryland, just as parts of D.C. became parts of Virginia many years ago."

"I think that's a good way for us to approach this issue," she said. "There are also constitutional issues to be dealt with."

The House bill faces opposition from Republicans in the Senate. Washington, D.C., with about 693,000 residents, votes overwhelmingly for Democrats. It has one nonvoting representative in Congress, even though its residents pay federal taxes and cast votes in the presidential election.

If the District of Columbia were to become part of Maryland, then the state would gain enough population to pick up an extra House district, and residents could be represented in the Senate by Maryland's senators, Collins suggested.

Republicans have consistently opposed making the District of Columbia a state, arguing that the measure is a tactic by Democrats to gain two more Senate seats. GOP lawmakers also assert that the bill would violate the Constitution and the 23rd Amendment that extended the right to vote in presidential elections to District of Columbia residents. The two current Maryland senators are Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has said that District of Columbia statehood is an idea whose time has come, adding that he will do all he can to pass the bill.

Texas city's voters

back abortion ban

The Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Lubbock voters have approved a measure aimed at outlawing abortion in the West Texas city, a move likely to prompt legal action from opponents who call it an unconstitutional ban on the procedure.

Residents voted Saturday to declare Lubbock a "sanctuary city for the unborn," bypassing the City Council's rejection of the proposal last year over concerns that it would be unenforceable and would tie up the city in costly litigation.

The proposition was approved with 62% of the vote, according to the unofficial tally from Lubbock County. It's unclear when it would go into effect.

Jim Baxa of West Texas for Life celebrated the results.

"The Church of Jesus Christ banded together, stepped up to their role, their God-given role, and said we're not going to let babies be killed in our city," he told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

A flurry of measures to restrict abortion have been approved in Republican-controlled cities and states as the party hopes to lead the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

Abortion services are available in Lubbock at a Planned Parenthood clinic that opened last year.

Sarah Wheat, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said that "we are committed to expanding access to abortion and will provide abortion services when possible in Lubbock."

In 2019, the small town of Mineral Wells backed off a similar ban after the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas warned council members that it was unconstitutional.

In a statement released by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU hinted at possible legal action in Lubbock.

"The ACLU has a long history of challenging unconstitutional abortion bans and will continue to fight to protect the fundamental rights of the people of Lubbock," said attorney Drucilla Tigner.

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