While President Trump was in Maine recently highlighting our state’s contribution to the battle against COVID-19, our federal government ordered troops to wage a different war in our nation’s capital. Before his visit here, I, like many friends and neighbors, watched in shock as an American president ordered the use of tear gas to clear peaceful protesters so he could have a photo op in front of a church.

He could do this because Washington, D.C., residents lack the basic representation that Americans living in the 50 states have. Because they lack statehood, families in the District of Columbia do not have senators or voting representatives in Congress, nor a governor to block the use of pepper spray on peaceful protesters.

Washington, D.C.’s population of 702,455 is greater than the states of Wyoming and Vermont. According to the District’s Office of Revenue Analysis, District residents pay more than $26 billion in federal taxes, more than 22 states. It’s past time to give the people of the District fair and equal treatment in our democracy.

A bill, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, has received a groundswell of support in Congress this past year. It would give the residents of the District of Columbia the same rights that other Americans take for granted. But our senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, have not signed on as co-sponsors yet. Voting rights are a pillar of our democracy, and it is time for Sens. Collins and King to sign on to this bill and be on the right side of history.

Brian Diamond-Falk

Portland

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