A Step Toward 51 – The New York Times

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Today, for the first time, the House of Representatives is expected to approve statehood for Washington, D.C. The bill is likely to pass on party lines, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans against it. Afterward, it is almost certain to die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

But the vote is still significant, because it signals the Democratic Party’s growing focus on the issue. It now seems possible that the District of Columbia will become a state whenever Democrats next control the House, the Senate and the White House, which could be as soon as next year.

So here’s your brief guide:

  • The standard D.C. license plate includes the Revolutionary War-era phrase “Taxation without representation.” District residents pay federal taxes but have no vote in the House or the Senate. The recent coronavirus relief bill gave less money per capita to federal territories, including D.C., than to states.

  • With about 705,000 residents, D.C. is larger than two states — Vermont and Wyoming.

  • About 45 percent of D.C. residents are black, a higher share than in any state. The District’s lack of representation contributes to the racial skew of the Senate: It gives considerably more say to white Americans than black, Asian or Latino Americans, because small states are heavily white.

  • In a 2016 referendum, 86 percent of D.C. residents voted in favor of statehood. (Many D.C.-statehood advocates also support offering admission to Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans will vote this year on a nonbinding referendum about statehood.)

  • Alaska and Hawaii are the most recent states to join, in 1959, which means the U.S. is in its longest stretch without adding a new state.

  • Because the Constitution calls for a federal district separate from any state, the House bill would designate a small downtown area — mostly government buildings — as the new national capital.

  • “The surge of support for statehood among congressional Democrats is in large part a backlash against President Donald Trump’s aggressive response within the district to the civil unrest sparked by George Floyd’s death,” Quinta Jurecic explains in The Atlantic. Muriel Bowser, Washington’s mayor, has said, “Statehood fixes it all.”

Pro and con: Susan Rice made the case for statehood in a recent Times Op-Ed. The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby has argued against it, saying the creation of a new, smaller federal district would be unconstitutional.

The U.S. suffered a record number of new coronavirus cases for the second straight day on Thursday. The surge led the White House to announce that its virus task force would hold its first briefing today in nearly two months.

In Texas — one of the Sunbelt states with a major outbreak — Gov. Greg Abbott paused the state’s reopening plans. Abbott, who had been an early proponent of reopening, is now trying to address the crisis without angering conservative Texans or the White House. “It’s not a full about-face, but it’s a half about-face,” says Manny Fernandez, The Times’s Houston bureau chief. Hear more from Manny on today’s episode of “The Daily.”

More virus developments:

  • The infection rate among Latinos in the U.S. is especially high, a sign of the makeup of the essential work force.

  • If you haven’t yet seen The Times interactive on “How the Virus Won,” I recommend it.


The Tucson Police Department released a video this week showing Carlos Ingram Lopez, a 27-year-old Latino man, being restrained face down for 12 minutes by police officers in April. He died shortly after. Three officers involved have already resigned; the police chief also offered to resign, but city officials refused the offer.

Many Latinos across the United States are calling out police brutality against their communities, echoing similar calls by African-Americans. Tucson, which has a large Latino population, had already made some reforms to reduce police violence. But it is not clear why it took the department two months to release the video.


She had a hardscrabble childhood and later joined the Illinois National Guard. She lost her legs in a rocket-­propelled-grenade blast in Iraq in 2004. She has been elected to both houses of Congress and became the first senator to give birth while in office, as well as one of only a handful of women of color ever to serve in the Senate.

She is Tammy Duckworth, and she is among the candidates Joe Biden is considering for vice president. “I can push back against Trump in a way others can’t,” Duckworth told my colleague Jennifer Steinhauer.

Making the case for her: Duckworth has an “amazing, inspiring personal story that I think will resonate with voters at a time when people really want to feel good about politicians and politics in a way they haven’t in a long time,” Frank Bruni, an Opinion columnist, said on “The Argument” podcast.

New poll: Most Democrats say race should not be a factor in Biden’s choice of a running mate, a new poll found.


A Russian hacking group is targeting many of America’s largest companies, identifying employees working from home during the pandemic and attempting to get inside their networks. Law enforcement officials suspect that the attacks are retaliation for the Justice Department’s indictment of the hacking group in December.


  • The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act. If successful, the move would end health-insurance coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.

  • The climate has been warming rapidly in the Arctic for years, but even by those standards, the recent heat wave in northern Siberia has been shocking.

  • Attorney General William Barr has made an antitrust investigation of Google a top Justice Department priority.

  • There’s a growing debate about whether the word black should be capitalized when used in the context of race.

  • NASCAR released a photo of the noose found last weekend in the garage stall of the black driver Bubba Wallace. NASCAR had originally described it as a pull rope for a garage door that was “fashioned like a noose,” but it looks like a classic noose.

  • Lives lived: Dennis Nagle embraced 1960s-style hedonism, including an affinity for marijuana and psychedelics, and by the 1980s had fathered four children with four women. But when his youngest son enrolled at M.I.T., Nagle followed him there, found a job at one of the school’s labs and soon became a beloved campus figure. He died from the coronavirus at 78.

In no other country has mask wearing become as politicized as it has in the United States. In one recent poll, only half of self-identified Republicans said they almost always wore masks inside stores, compared with three quarters of Democrats.

Why? Blame polarization, says our colleague Amanda Taub, who co-writes The Times’s Interpreter column. Political identity in America has become so all-encompassing that anything can become a statement of political allegiance. “And if the other side likes something, then your side has to think it’s bad,” Amanda told me. “In this case, President Trump has pretty consistently insisted that the virus isn’t that serious, we don’t need precautions, and people don’t need to worry about risks, which has marked that out as the Republican position.”

But rising case numbers in several red states are testing that position. Florida’s Republican senators have urged the public to wear masks. The Republican governors in Texas and Arizona recently reversed course, letting local officials require masks inside businesses.

“The virus doesn’t care about people’s partisan affiliations,” Amanda said. (You can sign up here for The Interpreter newsletter, which explains global events.)

Mango royale, with its rich alternating layers of cream and mango purée, is an easy no-bake dessert. Super-ripe, even overripe, mangoes are key to the Filipino dish. Manila mangoes are ideal for their deep honey taste and creamy texture, though Kent, Haden or even frozen mangoes will also work. Find the recipe here.


Our weekly suggestion from Gilbert Cruz, The Times’s Culture editor:

There’s something engrossing about the documentaries of Asif Kapadia. And engrossing fits the bill at the moment, when I’d rather not always think about the fact that there’s a pandemic racing through the United States.

Kapadia has directed biographical documentaries on the Brazilian racing star Ayrton Senna, the British singer Amy Winehouse and the Argentine soccer god Diego Maradona. Composed entirely of archival footage without any breaks to modern-day talking heads, the movies suck you away to very specific worlds — the tracks and garages of Formula One, the soccer-obsessed city of Naples in the mid- to late ’80s. The sign of a great documentary is whether or not it can bring along a viewer who doesn’t normally have an interest in its topic, and on that count, all three of these qualify.

Side note: I recommended “Do the Right Thing” a few weeks ago, and this weekend, the film is available for free on Amazon, iTunes and other platforms.


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