As you know, the mid-term election this week reshaped the Congress, creating both challenges and opportunities in our pursuit of equal rights for the District of Columbia.
Already, we’ve seen significant national press coverage of the overwhelming support by District voters to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
On October 17th, the federal appeals court judge that heard the oral arguments in the DC Council’s suit to compel implementation of the Local Budget Autonomy Act raised the question of whether the ongoing dispute over the law involving the DC Council, the Mayor and the Chief Financial Officer could be moot after a new DC Mayor and an elected DC Attorney General take office in January.
Today is “Constitution and Citizenship Day,” a holiday meant to commemorate the approval of the US Constitution by the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and the privileges it affords to American Citizens. While some Americans will surely take time today to remember the wisdom of a group of white Christian males who lived over 200 years ago, DC residents will be reminded of how the constitution continues to be used to rob us of our natural rights.
As a resident of California, a state about as far away from the District of Columbia as one can get, I am often faced with the question, “why should I, or any other resident outside of D.C. for that matter, care about local autonomy for the District of Columbia?” I live outside the jurisdiction of D.C.’s local laws and am virtually unaffected by its local politics and policies. Then, while sitting in on a House Appropriations Committee markup of the Financial Services and General Government sub-committee bill a couple of weeks ago, it hit me.
DC Vote wants voting representation in Congress and full equality for the residents of the District of Columbia. It is an admirable and valiant goal, but one that has been going on for nearly 200 years. Achieving this mission will require not only concerted involvement from elected officials and citizens, but a very specific political climate as well.
Not to sound cliché or anything, but these past two months at DC Vote have truly been the best two months of my life. From getting to know my fellow interns who made me smile every single day, to making connections with my wonderful supervisors and supporters of DC equality. I couldn’t have asked for a better internship. It was a remarkable experience to work with a grassroots advocacy and learn the ins and outs of the organization.
Rep. Andy Harris has been attracting attention with some wild comments. After successfully attaching language to a spending bill that would overturn DC’s marijuana decriminalization law, Harris proudly stepped forward to defend the blatantly undemocratic maneuver. We now know that he doesn’t “usually” interfere with DC’s local laws (gee, thanks!) and that he believes DC officials should focus more on subpar schools (how’d he manage to change it to that subject?).
I hope Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) takes the advice of his colleague Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) and runs for DC Council in the fall. That way, if Rep. Harris is successful in his campaign at least he would be accountable to DC voters.
Right now, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the House majority, Harris is operating as if he is the lone elected official from the District.
Today, the House subcommittee in charge of DC’s annual budget passed a spending bill that forces District residents to adhere to a local abortion policy we don’t support.
It’s a familiar storyline, but impossible to ignore. A group of legislators we did not elect, who serve in a body where we have no vote, are forcing Americans in DC to submit to their view of the world. And, like all dictators, they seem to answer to no one.