Virginia Senator Attempts to Introduce Bill to Re-Cede Arlington and Alexandria Back to DC

  • January 31st 2020

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Earlier this month, Virginia Delegate Dave LaRock mused that, based on political leanings, he would support receding Arlington and Alexandria back to the District of Columbia. Yesterday, a Virginia state senator tried to legitimize that suggestion.

Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) motioned for unanimous consent to introduce a bill to re-cede Arlington and Alexandria back to DC as Thursday's senate session was coming to a close.

Senator Obenshain cited a press conference by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. where they suggested that Virginia counties whose residents are unhappy with having a Democrat-led General Assembly should secede from Virginia to join West Virginia. Obenshain expressed that such a suggestion was no solution to bring harmony to his state.

"I really believe we in Virginia should find a way, and it may be a painful way, to try and work out our differences," he explained. Obenshain went on to recount how Arlington and Alexandria were ceded from DC to Virginia in 1846, stating that the two jurisdictions' pro-slavery leanings motivated the move, and questioning whether the federal government has the constitutional right to give territory back that was ceded to it. 

Obenshain explained that he does not want to see any part of Virginia secede to join West Virginia. "I believe that we need to seriously debate this alternative that would allow 95%, 98% of the landmass of the Commonwealth of Virginia to remain Virginians."

The conversation that followed was lively. Senator J. Chapman Petersen of Fairfax County objected to the motion with a list of what the state would lose in the process, including residency of many assembly staff-members, an abundance of bars and restaurants, and the state's highest concentration of Starbucks. 

Senator Richard Saslaw of Fairfax County wryly referred to Obenshain as "the senator from West Virginia" and asked whether a bill should be introduced to make the 8th Planning District its own state; Obenshain said he would support such a bill to facilitate conversation. Senator Adam Ebbin of Alexandria suggested that West Virginia should instead re-join Virginia.

Senator Barbara Favola of Arlington stated that the motion would be unlikely to go anywhere even if it did move forward.

"We have the most number of lawyers per capita of any jurisdiction in the entire country, so if you move forward with this motion, we will tie you up in court from now until kingdom come."

Although there were some loud "ayes" in response to the motion to introduce the bill to the floor, the chorus of "no"s drowned them out and consent was not granted.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/virginia-senator-attempts-to-introduce-bill-to-re-cede-arlington-and-alexan/16406.

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