Congress Prepared to Pounce on D.C
||Washington Examiner (DC)
||Monday, November 8, 2010
What authentic local gifts should incoming Mayor Vincent Gray bring to President Barack Obama when he lunches at the White House Dec. 1?
A half smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl?
A Glock semiautomatic?
A Metro accident report?
"Why not a D.C. license plate?" suggests Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, which advocates for the capital city's full representation in the House. "He could put it on his limo."
Not a bad idea. George Bush removed the D.C. plates that read "No Taxation Without Representation." Obama, who professes to care about his current hometown, has turned down entreaties to reinstate the "taxation" plates.
The facts are that advocates for greater D.C. autonomy from the federal government are not going to get much from this White House. More funds for education and bike lanes, perhaps, but zero on the dream of getting a vote on the House floor for our currently neutered delegate.
Facts are that the District will be so back on its heels when Republicans take over the House in January that we will be lucky to keep Home Rule, limited as it may be.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the hard-core Utah Republican who will chair the D.C. oversight subcommittee, has said Home Rule is unconstitutional.
So when Vince Gray says he's going to push for statehood, I have to ask: Is the dude high on Ecstasy?
What we are likely to get from Congress is meddling like we haven't seen since the days Sen. Jesse Helms put antiabortion riders for D.C. into every bill that crossed his desk. It could be worse. Chaffetz could run the D.C. committee in the manner of Rep. John "Johnny Mack" McMillan in the 1950s. The South Carolina Republican, an avowed segregationist, ruled the capital city as a fiefdom to the great harm of its black residents.
Gun control is in play. The National Rifle Association wants Congress to ban the District's ability to regulate guns. The NRA had the votes last session and could try again.
"We have to be prepared for a fight on the gun issue," Zherka says.
Gray and other local politicians play to the masses by advocating statehood, but is the District prepared to lobby against congressional intervention? Rather than running up statehood rhetoric, Gray might want to hire a lobbyist and make friends on Capitol Hill.
The District lost its best and most influential Republican when Fairfax's Tom Davis retired from Congress. In his place we have Frank Wolf, whose children run a charter school in D.C. He's a friend, but he's no Tom Davis.
But Wolf does sit on the Appropriations Committee, which has the power to add riders that would eliminate local measures on medical marijuana, same sex marriage and the like. Alexandria's Jim Moran is on appropriations, too.
Our heroine might be D.C. appropriations subcommittee chair Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri. She's a moderate who has spoken against Congress stepping into D.C. affairs.
With Obama disinterested and hobbled, we could use a heroine in the House.