Nearly 100 Organizations Protest DC Riders In Budget Bill
||The Hill (DC)
||Friday, July 8, 2011
||Blog Briefing Room
Nearly 100 organizations from across the country sent a letter to House members Thursday, expressing their opposition to policy riders affecting Washington, D.C., in a fiscal year 2012 budget bill.
The advocacy, religious and political groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Committee and Democracy for America — joined with voting-rights group DC Vote to oppose the social policy riders in the FY12 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.
Unveiled in June, the bill's riders would prevent the District from using local funds for abortion services. The bill would also deny funding for needle exchange and medical marijuana programs.
“Please work to end this disgrace rather than attack D.C.’s local democracy,” urged the groups, calling on lawmakers to oppose any effort to force Congress’s views on the District through the FY12 budget bill.
The city would receive $637 million under the bill, $62 million less than the previous year and $80 million less than what was requested in the president’s budget.
On Thursday, DC Vote led District residents and activists to more than 20 meetings with Republican and Democratic House staffers, circulating copies of the letter.
"It is important that D.C. residents are proactive and have face to face meetings on Capitol Hill, to let members of Congress know that real Americans are affected by their decisions regarding the District," said DC Vote Public Affairs Director Eugene Kinlow in a statement.
According to the letter, the disparate groups, ranging from the NAACP to the People for the American Way to the Washington Teachers Union, were “all in agreement that D.C.’s locally-elected leadership should decide what is best for the District.”
“The Mayor of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Council were elected by D.C. residents to represent their best interests in the local government,” the letter continued. “Congress does not impose its views on any other local jurisdiction in the United States of America. We expect Congress to be consistent by letting Washingtonians manage their own affairs without interference or meddling.”
Long at issue is the District’s lack of voting representation in Congress. President Obama, once seen as the District’s best hope to gain a voting representative, caused outrage among residents several months ago over a budget deal he reached with congressional Republicans ceding funding for abortions.
Many D.C. residents, council members and Mayor Vincent Gray later protested the use of the District as a bargaining chip in negotiations to pass a federal government-funding measure.
“Americans living in our nation’s capital pay federal taxes, serve on juries and fight and die in wars, but are denied voting representation in Congress,” the letter stated.