I’m Just a Bill…

13 04 2011

Leave it to Congress to bring out the political post on this blog. There hasn’t been one on here since…. since… well, we won’t bother with dates right now. Just know, that it’s here now.

Please tell me you remember this song… it was one of my faves as a little girl and funny enough, I found myself recalling this little diddy last week when speaking to folks about the budget crisis also known as Congress almost letting the government shut down for political ideologies. While there’s a lot I could talk/write about concerning what went on last week (and frankly, continues on), such as the attempt to cut Federal funding from Planned Parenthood and the Democrats lack of balls sometimes, what I really want to talk about is how DC continues to be shafted amongst all the conversations.

I’m sure that the average politically informed citizen knows that DC has ‘representation’ in Congress, but that representation has no voting rights. She can sit at the table and beg and plead with her comrades, but when voting occurs – she gets no say. This is nothing new. In fact, it wasn’t even until the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution, in 1961, that DC residents were even allowed to vote in Presidential elections.

What I didn’t know until last week, though, was that while DC is a fully functioning city government with its own local funds, it has to wait on Congress’ approval before it can use said funds.

To try and understand this logic, I want you to think back to when you were a tweenager and you got your first job. Let’s say in this scenario, your parents decide that you don’t need an allowance anymore, because you have your own money. BUT whenever you get paid, you have to give your check to your parents and then get permission to use that money to buy…. well, anything. If you can remember back to that time, then you can somewhat understand the frustration of the city, except that then you were a 12 year old child, not a city with over 600,000 residents.

Even this is nothing new, however. It’s just new to me. But even as someone who only works in DC, but commutes in from Maryland, it’s been distressing to realize just how much the Federal Government controls the District. Did you know that the Federal Government has the right to change any and all laws made in the District? I didn’t. That means that the citizens of DC could vote on something, pass it with a majority of the vote, and if Congress wanted to, they could pass the complete opposite law – and this would all be done legally.

In fact, while the country and the city rejoiced last Friday that Congress came to some kind of agreement, DC elected officials simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief and grew angry. Included in the deal was a “provision banning the District from spending its own funds to provide abortions to low-income women as well as funding to continue a controversial school voucher program,” according to the Washington Post – two political riders that I challenge anyone to explain their significance in decreasing the federal budget.

And yet, there’s no large outcry from the city, for the most part. You hear a few DC officials making noise and taking calculated stances, most notably DC Mayor Gray and about half of the city council members, who were recently arrested for protesting the recent budget deal. But there were only about 40 other people out there with them.

Out of 600,000 residents…

Could it be because DC is such a commuter city that many of the people working in it (like me) don’t reside in it and thus are not as invested? Or maybe residents feel that their license plates that say “Taxation without Representation” are enough? Or maybe they simply don’t think it will ever change… what do you all think? Are you as surprised as I was about how much federal control the city is under, and do you think DC will ever have a vote in Congress? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

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2 responses

13 04 2011
citizenw

Why weren’t we all out there getting arrested? Well, for one thing, we are outnumbered roughly 600 to one ( 330 million nationwide to 600,000 in DC. So, short of violence (and it hasn’t come to that…yet), we must rely on the willingness of our countrymen to do the right thing (hah!)….

DC also has by far the highest proportion of daily suburban commuters to residents of any city in the country(look it up in Census data)…so all the daily freeloaders from VA and MD don’t want to lose their gravy train. Losers! Make that unprincipled, ignorant losers!

19 04 2011
dbaham

@Citizenw – I’m not denigrating the people who didn’t go out there to protest. I clearly stated that I was not present, as well. The post was merely a reflection on the policy and a query as to why there’s no large outcry about it. Your comments reflect two options that I mentioned in the piece: 1) a feeling that it won’t change and 2) the high commuter rate into and out of the city. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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