DC Vote Warns Senate: Don't Tread On DC
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March 2, 2011
Washington-- The advocacy group DC Vote led over two-dozen local activists to the Capitol Hill office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today to demand that he support the District of Columbia's Home Rule authority in
upcoming tough negotiations with House Republican leaders over the federal budget. The House has passed a budget that includes restrictions on how the District can spend local funds, overriding locally-elected authority.
The activists lined up single-file outside of Reid's office in the Hart Senate Office Building carrying signs reading "Don't Tread On DC," an allusion to the
revolutionary, and now modern, tea party slogan "Don't Tread On Me." DC residents pay the highest per-capita federal income taxes in the country but have never had
voting representation in the House or Senate.
Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of DC Vote, explained the group's motivation in targeting a Democrat who has been publicly sympathetic to their cause. "Once again, the
District is caught in the middle of partisan politics on Capitol Hill, which could affect the lives of DC residents with no voting representation," Zherka said. "We're here today to tell Senator Reid and
his party to fight for us against House Republican attempts to override DC's Home Rule authority. DC remembers all too well when Senate Democrats failed to protect the DC Voting Rights Act from harmful amendments in 2009,
and we won't stand for it again."
The House's version of a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through September 2011 inlcudes provisions that would ban DC from using local, not federal, funds for AIDS prevention programs and
safe reproductive health servies for low-income women. The District of Columbia has the nation's highest HIV rate, which skyrocketed after previous congressional bans on local syringe access programs.
Today's action was the third in a series organized by DC Vote to step up pressure on Congress to respect Home Rule and end taxation without representation in the District of Columbia. Past actions include demonstrators standing in silent protest with gags over their mouths at a committee hearing and an early morning rally outside of Speaker John Boehner’s Capitol Hill residence. These tactics represent a shift in tactics by DC Vote. “We are becoming more aggressive as congressional attacks have become more extreme,” says Zherka. “We are determined to fight against congressional abuse of power in DC.”