News & Politics

DC Statehood Advocates Shrug Off Joe Biden’s License Plate “Snub”

The presidential limo doesn't have DC's “End Taxation Without Representation” license plates.

Photograph by Flickr user Kari Nesler.

DC Statehood advocates are shrugging off a new report that the license plates on President Joe Biden’s limousine don’t bear the movement’s motto, “End Taxation Without Representation.”

Axios DC published the news about Biden’s vehicle tags on Wednesday morning, describing the absence of the “End Taxation Without Representation” plates as a “snub.” The article notes that like many Washingtonians, both Bill Clinton and Barak Obama had DC license plates with the phrase on their limos, though Obama only did so in 2013 at the urging of local lawmakers. Neither Presidents George W. Bush nor Donald Trump used the “End Taxation Without Representation” plates while they were in office.

Elinor Hart, an activist with the DC Statehood Coalition, says Biden should get the “End Taxation Without Representation” plates on his limousine immediately. “We would like him to be more forceful on the issue of DC statehood,” she says. “But the least he can do is put that license tag on.”

Other DC statehood proponents were less exercised about the revelation. Sharon Nichols, a spokesperson for DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, says the non-voting member of Congress views the absence of the “End Taxation Without Representation” plates as merely “an oversight” by the Biden administration.

Norton’s bill to grant DC statehood passed the House of Representatives in April of 2021. And while it did not become law, the measure did garner the support of the Biden administration. According to Norton’s spokesperson, it’s for this reason that the delegate does not consider the absence of “End Taxation Without Representation” plates as a piece of “active messaging” on the part of the White House.

Bo Shuff, the executive director of another pro-statehood organization, DC Vote, agrees. In an interview, he says that the absence of the “End Taxation Without Representation” plates does not indicate a lack of support for the DC statehood movement.

“The president has issued a statement of policy in favor of statehood when the bill was going through the house,” Shuff says. “He’s made comments on it before, and [former White House Press Secretary] Jen Psaki made comments from the podium of his support.”

The type of license plate on the president’s limo, Shuff notes, isn’t nearly as significant as this type of support from the White House.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.