Local GOP Urges Norton to Work With Congress
||Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Today, the D.C. Republican Party sent a letter to D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton in which it encouraged her "to work with the new Republican Congress, build a working relationship with the new leadership and reach out to freshmen House Republicans toward a goal of obtaining DC Voting Rights."
In theory, this is a modest and intelligent proposal -- instead of simply assuming that every Republican on the Hill is reflexively against D.C. voting rights, Norton should seek them out and respectfully plead her case. But given the events that have transpired over the last three weeks, it seems, well, a little tone-deaf to what the District is dealing with.
Since the new Republican Congress was sworn in, it stripped Norton of her House vote, floated a congressional exemption from local gun laws, introduced legislation banning the use of local taxpayer dollars for abortions and proposed $210 million in spending cuts that would prove disastrous for the city. Sure, one Republican charged with dealing with District affairs is a moderate with local roots, but the other is an unknown Tea Party partisan from South Carolina.
And today alone, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced that he would seek to revive a school voucher program for the District and a large group of conservative House members declared their intentions to push for a ban on same-sex marriage in the District.
No, not all of these measures will pass; many are more of the political posturing we've gotten used to over the years. And yes, the voucher program has some merits and some prominent local supporters. But all told, it seems that reaching out to Republicans on the merits of our case is too little, too late.
The local GOP said in the letter that it would be "happy to meet with [Norton] and freshmen Republican Members of Congress on Capitol Hill in support of DC Voting Rights," and further proposes that a compromise be struck on school vouchers and voting rights. That's a place to start. But what else do our local Republican leaders expect to get, and how will they phrase their message to balance cooperation with a clear admonition of the moves Congress has already made?
In a statement accompanying the letter, D.C. GOP Chairman Robert Kabel stated the following:
Despite ample opportunity to do so, the passage of DC Voting Rights under a Democratic Congress was not successful. To make progress in the new Congress, with Republicans controlling the House, DC Democrats should refrain from treating Republicans as villains and work with them to resolve the many issues facing our city. Protests don't work with Republicans; sitting down and treating each other with respect brings about an atmosphere where progress can be made.
Fine, we can do respect. But can Congressional Republicans? Looking over the last three weeks, it's hard to think so.