Saturday, January 11, 2014

Congress Illustrates DC's Need for Statehood Once Again: Prohibits Using our Tax $$

Once again Congress has moved to prevent DC from spending its own funds.  On Jan 9, 2014, Eleanor Holmes Norton, (D-DC) issued a press release detailing the latest disrespect shown her as our elected representative.  This simply serves to reemphasize why it is so important that we gain Statehood status.  She had requested the courtesy, a bipartisan one of long standing, of being allowed to testify on a matter relating to health services for DC women.

The Hearing on H.R. 7 before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, has serious implications for our autonomy.  Among other things it would PERMANENTLY PROHIBIT DC from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women.  It would also define the DC government as part of the federal government for the purposes of abortion.  It is interesting to note that during the recent half month shut down of the government, Congress was willing to let Mayor Gray declare all DC presonnel as ESSENTIAL.  I guess they did not want to face the danger or inconvenience of lack of garbage collection, street cleaning, routine fire and police services, and the like.

The author of this grotesque discourtesy is Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chair of that Subcommittee.  Just as he did on this same bill in the last Congress, he denied her request again.  It is totally outside the civilized norms of Congress to treat a Representative this way when a bill directly affects their constituents.

A decade ago Representative Bob Barr (R-Georgia) was a key actor on denying DC voters the right to even count our votes in favor of medical marijuana.  If I remember correctly, DC residents were urged to actively campaign against his reelection to Congress.  He lost, gaining only 1/3 of the Republican Primary votes.  Various groups, and situations on the ground affected his defeat, but I like to think we in DC may have helped.  He subsequently completely reversed his stand on marijuna and subsequently ran as a Libertarian.

Perhaps what we need to do is plan a targeted campaign against Rep. Franks in the next election.  Maybe he might even be persuaded to reverse his racist, unfair, and discourteous treatment of our city and elected representative.  As the Barr case shows, miracles are possible.

Representative Norton wrote in her statement that "this subcommittee has been obsessed with dual objectives--infringing on the District's right to self-government and interfering with the reproductive health of the District's female residents, particularly its low-income women....this is the fourth bill [in 3 years] considered by this subcommittee that would both violate my local government's right to self-government and harm its female residents...Republicans say they support limiting the federal government's power and devolving that power to the states and localities....Republicans may not want to practice what they preach, but we do not intend to allow them to violate their own principles at our expense."  This is, of course, just one more blatant example of Republican hypocracy where women and people of color are concerned.

Rep. Norton also held a press conference with Mayor Gray and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of that same subcommittee, regarding this unfairness and discourtesy.  Nadler made a motion at the hearing to allow her to testify, but Franks again refused that courtesy.

Hopefully, this bill will not be approved in the Senate or signed into law by President Obama.  We should not be subject to this kind of outrageous treatment, especially as we pay both our federal and our local taxes, with limited or even NO rights to determine how they are spent.  The only solution is Statehood as quickly as possible.  DC STATEHOOD NOW!!!

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