Rally for D.C. Rights on Capitol Hill
||Monday, April 11, 2011
Supporters of D.C. voting rights -- upset about the budget deal that was struck on Friday and the impact it will have on District programs -- plan to rally on Capitol Hill Monday night.
The group DC Vote is calling on residents to rally in support of full voting rights.
Organizers will gather outside the Hart Senate Office Building (2nd and Constitution, NE) at 5 p.m. Monday.
While the details of the budget deal are still being worked out, the measure is seen by many as a setback for D.C. voting rights.
Under the deal, the District will be barred from spending money on abortions. Funding for the District's needle exchange program may also be in jeopardy. Congressional negotiators have also called for the reinstatement of a controversial school voucher program that would provide D.C. students with money to go to private schools.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray released the following statement after the budget deal was announced:
"This is ludicrous. While one rider purports to provide educational aid to children in need, the other takes away desperately needed aid from poor women. Hypocrisy is alive and well in the United States Congress.
"This indignity comes on top of the fact that no other state or jurisdiction had to endure the hardship of planning to shut down a municipal government, thus spending valuable resources and personnel on a process that never should have been necessary.
"The United States Congress ought to do what is morally right and grant the residents of the District of Columbia -- who pay more than $5 billion in taxes annually -- the right of full citizenship and budget autonomy.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was livid over how the District was treated by Democrats and Republicans.
"It's like they're a bunch of bullies, and they said, 'Who doesn't have the tools to fight back?' because they don't have two senators, and they don't have a House vote to even cast one vote against the package," Norton said. "That's the District of Columbia, so take the District of Columbia. And that's what they did."
Norton's words were backed up by this report from the White House by NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell:
Ultimately, Democrats succeeded in retaining funding for women's health organizations that also provide abortions (like Planned Parenthood), but they were not able to eliminate a controversial 'rider' related to abortions in D.C.
A senior Democratic aide says that on Thursday night at the White House, President Barack Obama told House Speaker John Boehner that the White House would include the D.C. abortion language that was in a Republican House-passed one week extension bill. That provision bans the District of Columbia from using its own local tax money to pay for abortion services.
The aide says he witnessed the president say to Speaker Boehner in the Oval Office, "John, I will give you D.C. I'm not happy about it."