John Oliver may have just made himself the apple of every D.C. politician’s eye.
The host of the HBO satirical news show “Last Week Tonight” advocated for D.C. statehood Sunday night – with song – arousing praise from the D.C. community who objects to the District’s inability to pass laws or define its own budget without Congressional approval.
“There is one other U.S. population who suffers a lack of representation in D.C., and that is D.C. itself,” Oliver said on the show. “If you’ve ever visited, their license plates say ‘taxation without representation,’ and that is for a pretty good reason.”
The show included a run-down on the origins of the District’s political situation and showed clips of D.C.’S non-voting Congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, standing her ground on statehood in an argument. D.C. residents only received the right to vote in presidential elections with the 23rd amendment in the 1960s and only being able to elect its own mayor and council members with the creation of the Home Rule Act in the next decade.
Oliver cited a number of incidents in recent D.C. history he considered unfair, including D.C.’s inability to use tax money to legalize the sale of marijuana, even though the city allows residents to grow, smoke and possess the substance for recreational use. The show also mentioned Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga, voting against D.C. using its tax money for a needle exchange program in the city, although Barr’s home state of Georgia has its own needle program.
“It seems that Congress just forces riders on D.C. whenever they disapprove on how they’re spending their money,” Oliver said. “They are treating more than 600,000 people right now like children.”
Oliver’s comments have lead local politicians such as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council members to chime in on the debate and support Oliver’s statements.
Our Council dais only has 13 seats, but we'll add an honorary 14th folding chair at the end for you. Well played! https://t.co/nv1Gcw6s7r
— Council of DC (@councilofdc) August 3, 2015
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) August 3, 2015
The topic of D.C. statehood was discussed for the first time in more than 20 years in the U.S. Senate last year when Norton, along with then-mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and two senators argued for statehood. Since leaving office in January, Gray has been working to strengthen the statehood movement in the District.
D.C. Council Member Anita Bonds, At-Large, also introduced a resolution for D.C. statehood to the National Conference of State Legislators Summit in Seattle, Washington, which lasts from Monday through Thursday, according to a press release. Council members Vincent Orange, At-Large, Charles Allen from Ward 6, and Kenyan McDuffie from Ward 5, were also a part of submitting the resolution.
Missed Oliver’s segment? Be sure to watch it below.