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LeBlanc expresses ‘full support’ for D.C. statehood before hearing in Congress

Hatchet File Photo
An outside consultant is helping officials oversee the first review of University President Thomas LeBlanc’s performance this spring.

University President Thomas LeBlanc sent a letter expressing GW’s “full support” for D.C. statehood Wednesday in advance of a congressional hearing on the issue.

In the letter, addressed to House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, LeBlanc said the lack of representation at the federal level “stifles” GW’s progress and ability to “contribute solutions” to the country’s biggest challenges. The committee Thursday will hold a hearing on H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act – its first on D.C. statehood since 1993.

“In addition to the hardships District residents face due to their lack of federal representation, the issue also negatively impacts faculty members and researchers at D.C. universities and, as a result, research and innovation that has the potential to benefit society,” LeBlanc said in the letter.

He said universities have been “crucial partners” with the government in discovery, innovation and research, but D.C. schools do not have the representation to advocate for grant dollars.

“Colleges and universities rely on their members of Congress to advocate on their behalf and to help them navigate the complex federal research grant process,” LeBlanc said in the letter. “Unfortunately, faculty members and researchers at institutions of higher education located in Washington, D.C., lack any representation in the Senate and have a non-voting member in the House of Representatives.”

LeBlanc said he is “grateful” to the District’s elected officials, including Mayor Muriel Bowser and Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., for their “tireless advocacy” for statehood. Norton reintroduced the statehood bill at the start of the 116th Congress, and Bowser will testify at Thursday’s hearing, according to a committee memo.

Bowser tweeted her support for LeBlanc’s announcement soon afterward.

While nearly 86 percent of D.C. residents voted in favor of a referendum pushing statehood in 2016, a national poll conducted by Gallup in June found 64 percent of participants oppose the measure.

Georgetown University President John DeGioia, American University President Sylvia Burwell and Trinity Washington University have all issued statements supporting D.C. statehood this month.

Students restarted the GW chapter of Students for D.C. Statehood last year, and the group thanked LeBlanc on Twitter following the announcement.

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