The District of Columbia and Its Lack of Representation in Congress: What Difference Does it Make?

January 1, 2006

Funding: Trellis Foundation


The U.S. Capitol

The concept and practice of representation underpins the American democracy. Yet, residents of the nation’s capital lack full representation before Congress. Does it matter? Has the lack of a full voice in Congress rendered the District and its citizens worse off?

This report addresses the substantive political and policy implications of the District’s underrepresentation in Congress. It examines the implications from a variety of angles including the distribution of power within Congress, the ability of the District to stop unwanted federal legislation, the ability of the District to garner useful benefits from the federal government, the ability of District residents to receive help with their federally-related problems, the impact of the District’s status on the political participation of its citizens, and a comparison of the District’s representation in Congress to the national capital cities in all the world’s democracies.

The report was written by Garry Young, Director of the Center for Washington Area Studies at George Washington University and funded in part under the Trellis Fund’s DC Democracy Initiative

Appendix 1: Full List of Laws Affecting DC

Appendix 2: Earmark Regression Estimates 



Garry Young - Director

Hal Wolman - Research Professor

Royce Hanson - Research Professor



Final Report: The District of Columbia and Its Lack of Representation in Congress: What Difference Does It Make? 

July 01, 2009

Executive Summary: The District of Columbia and Its Lack of Representation in Congress:  What Difference Does It Make? 

July 01, 2009