Issa Supports Giving DC More Freedom Over Funds

WASHINGTON (AP) - The chairman of the House committee that oversees the District of Columbia said Thursday that he's open to giving district leaders more freedom to spend their local tax dollars, a prospect that pleased D.C. officials who have been advocating for years for greater budget autonomy.

Congress must approve the district's budget. That means services for the 600,000 residents of the nation's capital hang in the balance anytime funding for the federal government is at risk of running out.

Cheh: Glad to be 'out of the joint' following Wed. arrest

WASHINGTON - D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh says she's "happy to be out of the joint" after being arrested Wednesday during a protest over abortion funding.

The Ward 3 representative was one of 53 people taken into custody recently for protesting budget maneuvers on Capitol Hill they say infringe on the District's autonomy, according to Karen A. Szulgit with the Stand Up! for Democracy in D.C. Coalition.

D.C. to Hold Sovereignty Rally as Part of MLK Memorial Dedication

WASHINGTON - Forty-eight years after Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech, another march will take place D.C. in the spirit of self-determination.

The "D.C. Full Democracy Rally and March" on Aug. 27 will feature civil rights leaders and elected officials of the District in support of sovereignty for the nation's capital.

The rally is just one occasion in a week full of events leading up to the official dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on Saturday, Aug. 28.

Norton, Issa to Continue Work on Budget Bill

The District of Columbia's delegate to Congress says she'll continue to work with Republican Rep. Darrell Issa on a bill that would give the district greater control over its municipal budget.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and other district leaders rejected a bill that Issa proposed this week that would allow the district to spend local tax dollars without congressional approval, among other changes.

The Issa bill included language prohibiting the district from spending local tax dollars on abortion. District leaders consider that an unwelcome intrusion.

Puerto Rico vote on statehood could embolden D.C.

WASHINGTON - As Puerto Rico prepares to hold its first status referendum in 14 years this November, a leading advocate for District of Columbia statehood said he sees strong parallels between the two jurisdictions' political situations.

Democrat Paul Strauss, elected to his third term as a symbolic "shadow" senator for D.C. in 2008, said he is an "interested observer" watching the decades-old status debate in Puerto Rico. That debate may come to a head on Election Day, Nov. 6.

D.C. Makes Plea for Statehood at Convention

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - This week, it's the Democrats' turn to make their case to voters, but while the delegates travel to the convention, advocates for D.C. statehood will highlight their own cause celebre.

Shadow Sen. Michael Brown and outgoing Shadow Rep. Mike Panetta helped secure two billboards in the host city, one of which is little more than a football field's length from the Time Warner Arena.

The call for statehood will greet thousands of delegates en route to the various convention sites.

D.C. Leaders Say Obama has Done Little For Them

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama carried the nation's capital in 2008 with 92 percent of the vote, and some local activists hoped he would push to give the District of Columbia representation in Congress and more autonomy in local affairs.

Four years later, nothing has changed _ the district still has a nonvoting delegate in the House, and its budget and laws remain subject to congressional review. Even Obama's staunchest local defenders are upset he's not more vocal on issues important to them.

District to Seek Budget Autonomy Through Referendum

WASHINGTON - D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will propose legislation Tuesday seeking to put a voter referendum on a future ballot that would give District leaders more power to freely spend local tax dollars.

The legislation would amend the D.C. Home Rule Charter to allow the District to set its own fiscal calendar and spend local tax dollars without the approval of Congress. Several sources who have been briefed on the bill spoke on condition of anonymity because Mendelson has not made his legislation public.

Mendelson declined to comment.

D.C. Council Asks Obama to Use 'Taxation Without Representation' License Plate

A petition on the White House website urges President Barack Obama to put the D.C. "taxation without representation" license plate on the presidential limo.

Now, two members of the D.C. Council are meeting with White House officials to discuss that very issue.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson signed a resolution about the license plate Friday morning that will be given to Obama. He and Councilmember Mary Cheh then drove two blocks to meet with White House staffers.