It'll be a busy day for D.C. in the courts today, as federal judges hear arguments on two separate cases: a budget autonomy referendum and the city's longstanding ban on carrying handguns outside the home.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., is urging Republican senators who called on President Barack Obama to support the democracy movement in Hong Kong to also support democracy in D.C.
A bipartisan group of senators, including 10 Republicans and 11 Democrats, sent a letter to the president Thursday, urging Obama to “voice U.S. support for full democracy in Hong Kong.” The group included senators from both ends of the political spectrum who united to write, “[We] strongly support the Hong Kong people’s aspiration for universal suffrage and full democracy.”
It could have been a big moment: a congressional hearing room packed in such numbers that an overflow room was needed to accommodate the audience; a moment two decades in the making; an issue that had the support of President Obama.
“WHEN I talk about all who want to be heard in the halls of the federal government, I am talking about the more than 600,000 taxpayers who, like me — like me — live in the District of Columbia and still have no voting representation in Congress. We pay our taxes. We die in the Army. . . . It is long past time for every citizen to be afforded his or her full responsibilities and full rights.”
Two independent candidates vying to become the next D.C. mayor presented two different views on achieving voting rights for D.C. and how best to work with — and without — Congress to do so.
David Catania, a member of the D.C. council, told the several dozen voters gathered at the DC Vote forum that District residents cannot count on Congress to help them achieve full voting rights.
“No taxation without representation” has been a cliché of American politics almost since the nation’s founding, but for citizens of Washington, D.C., those words have been anything but a guarantee.
A Senate committee held a hearing Monday on a bill that would grant statehood to the District of Columbia. Or perhaps it's better to say a single Senator held a hearing on the bill, since only Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), who chairs the committee and introduced the legislation, stayed for the entire duration.
After the U.S. House of Representatives debated a D.C. statehood bill in 1992, the measure made it out of committee before being killed during a vote on the House floor. But a statehood bill debated yesterday in the U.S. Senate may not even make it out of committee — despite Democrats controlling the chamber.
The last time Congress considered legislation to change the District of Columbia’s status as a non-voting federal jurisdiction, it was only a partial measure and Democrats controlled both chambers as well as the White House. But in an environment where even 2009’s halfway measure looks highly unlikely -- if not impossible -- supporters are pushing for full statehood.
President Barack Obama is for D.C. Statehood, as are quite a few of his neighbors in the District of Columbia. On Monday, those boosters will make the first concrete progress toward that goal in 20 years. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the New Columbia Admission Act of 2013. The hearing will be the first about D.C. statehood since 1993, when a similar House measure went up for a vote.