“Lay Off DC!” Says Serrano
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January 31, 2011
The Bronx, NY – Increasingly frustrated with the House Republicans’ overbearing and intrusive plans for their ‘oversight’ of the District of Columbia, DC Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member José E. Serrano told them Monday to “lay off DC.” For the past four years, Serrano chaired the Appropriations Subcommittee that freed DC of a number of social riders and restrictions.
“Over the past four years we spent many long hours fighting to free DC of the harsh impositions of past Congresses, and did so with great success,” said Serrano. “From syringe exchange to medical marijuana and local power over school choice, we enabled the District and its leaders to chart their own course. My colleagues and I saw no point in imposing our views on the 500,000 citizens of DC. How could we presume to know better than them what they should use their local funds for?
“In a chilling reversal, the new House Republican majority has in just a short time promised to undo most of those decisions, and worse yet, to reignite the governing attitude that places Congressional authority at odds with local decisions. They compounded this with an immediate move to strip my colleague Eleanor Holmes Norton of her right to vote on the House floor.
“The Republicans’ shamelessly undemocratic moves have been couched in the false cover of ‘respect for the Constitution.’ The Constitution does indeed set out DC’s unique relationship with the federal powers that reside within its borders, but there is no proof that it envisions Congress making second class citizens of the District residents. The strict Constitutionalists on the other side of the aisle would do well to work to bring equality to DC residents rather than a separate and unfair system for people living there.
“We took many bold and sometimes controversial actions during the past four years—but at each point we asked the elected leaders of the District what they would like done, and did our best to carry that out. We never imposed our wishes on the people because as we know, what is best for my Congressional District in the Bronx in local government is not always what is best for the District of Columbia.
“In their ill-advised fight against health care reform, Republicans have talked non-stop about the right of citizens not to have undue impositions from the federal government. They would do well to keep faith with that belief when it comes to their treatment of the citizens of the District of Columbia.
“I will fight efforts by this Republican majority to make DC residents’ local issues subject to the whims of a national legislative body which was elected to make decisions on national policy. I have high hopes that Senate Democrats will fight Republican efforts to micromanage DC, and I know that our President does not support Republican initiatives on DC.
“If there is one thing that I believe we can all agree on—regardless of party—it is that each American citizen should be allowed a say in their government, both local and national, and there should be no efforts to create or perpetuate two-tiered systems of citizenship.”
Congressman José E. Serrano has represented the Bronx in Congress since 1990.
He is Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.