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Posts in "DC-Hill Relations"
September 26, 2014
A day after announcing his exit, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. paid lip service to voting rights for residents of the District of Columbia.
Holder, who previously served as a D.C. Superior Court judge and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said the Justice Department would continue fighting “until all Americans have equal access to the ballot box,” during a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
“And when I talk about all who want to be heard in the halls of the federal government, I am including 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,” Holder said Friday.
“We pay our taxes, we die in the Army, we have a great representative, and we do not have voting rights,” he continued. “It is long past time for every citizen to be afforded his or her full responsibilities as well as our full rights.”
Holder did not outline any specific actions he would take on behalf of D.C. as he waits for a successor to be confirmed, but the line drew a big round of applause.
During the speech, the nation’s first black attorney general reminisced about his earliest encounter with the CBC. Holder said he attended a caucus dinner with his aunt when he was a young lawyer “during my first days here in Washington, D.C.”
The New York City native moved to the District after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1976. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Holder to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Five years later, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., recommended him to the Clinton administration to serve as the District’s top attorney.
Norton was among the Democrats congratulating Holder on six years of “outstanding work,” saying D.C. residents were especially proud of his tenure.
September 18, 2014
With the flow of judicial nominations slowing to a trickle this summer, District of Columbia officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect on the local bench.
Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield last week wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid describing the “adverse impact” of the backlog. Facing three judicial vacancies on the D.C. Superior Court, and a fourth coming in November, Satterfield requested votes on pending nominations before Congress adjourns.
The Nevada Democrat’s office has not responded formally to the Sept. 10 letter, according to Leah H. Gurowitz, director of governmental affairs and public relations for the court. Despite the correspondence, first reported by Legal Times, the chamber appears poised to adjourn without considering the nominations. Reid’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the situation. Full story
September 15, 2014
Washington, D.C. residents crowded into a hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building Monday to witness the first hearing on D.C. statehood in two decades, though enacting statehood in the 113th Congress is not likely anytime soon.
Sen. Thomas R. Carper, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, facilitated the hearing, fulfilling a promise that the Senate would consider D.C. statehood in the fall.
But at the end of the hearing, Carper searched for viable solutions other than statehood, asking the second round of panelists, “What should we be able to agree to?” Full story
September 12, 2014
Ruthless campaigner Tim Krepp emailed supporters on Friday afternoon to say he wholeheartedly supports Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and they should, too. Krepp hopes to defeat the congresswoman, who is running for her 13th term representing the District, in the November election, but he wants everyone to rally behind her on Monday. Norton will testify to a Senate panel on a cause near and dear to most Washingtonians: D.C. statehood.
“Heck, I’ll even link to her website,” the tour guide, author and former naval intelligence officer wrote in his email.
Krepp also gave considerable praise to citizen activist Josh Burch, and his group, Neighbors United for DC Statehood.
Burch mobilized much of the support on Capitol Hill, pestering staffers for meetings, and status updates on the hearing promised in June 2013 by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Thomas R. Carper, D-Del. The Brookland resident, who squeezes in time for lobbying around his full-time job for the D.C. government, has not been invited to testify.
Krepp is counting on Norton, Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson to make a solid case for why a 51st star should be added to the flag. Scholars on both sides of the issue will also be weighing in. An expanded witness list released Friday by the committee includes shadow Sens. Michael D. Brown and Paul Strauss, two men who effectively serve as pro bono statehood lobbyists to the Senate.
The “New Columbia Admission Act” would give D.C. voting representation in both chambers.
During a Friday appearance with WAMU’s Kojo Nmandi, Burch acknowledged that the bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the GOP-controlled House, but said the hearing would be key to getting members of Congress “on the record” about their positions.
“We need to know who are friends are publicly, and we need to know who our detractors are publicly,” Burch said, “because right now, without a vote on anything, everyone can just sort of hide behind the, ‘Oh, my boss hasn’t made a decision on this legislation.’ We need to know where public officials stand on this.”
Activists hope to pack the Dirksen committee room with statehood supporters. They encourage attendees to wear red to support the cause.
Krepp is dismissing cynicism, claiming it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy to assume statehood will never happen.
“If we declare victory after Monday’s hearing and go home, we’re going to be right back here in 2034 celebrating the first hearing in twenty years all over again,” he wrote. “We need to keep this momentum going and not let it drift away like we’ve done before. The key is sustained effort and civic involvement.”
September 10, 2014
Updated 4:37 p.m. | Expect humanitarian and fiscal arguments for why the District of Columbia should become the 51st state during next week’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the issue.
The witness list for the first hearing on D.C. statehood in more than two decades includes local elected officials, constitutional law experts, a civil rights leader and senior Brookings Institution fellow Alice Rivlin, the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and an expert on fiscal policy.
House Republicans unveiled what they’re calling a “clean” continuing resolution on Tuesday night, to the delight of budget autonomy advocates in the District of Columbia.
Two divisive provisions in the House-passed spending bill that opponents said intruded on D.C.’s right to Home Rule were left out of the legislation that would keep the government functioning through Dec. 11. Full story
September 8, 2014
It took more than a year, but D.C. statehood advocates are finally getting the hearing that Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Thomas R. Carper promised.
The Delaware Democrat will hold a full committee hearing Sept. 15 on his “New Columbia Admission Act,” a bill that would unite the eight wards of the city into a full-fledged state, excluding federal landmarks such as the Capitol, White House and Supreme Court. Carper introduced the measure in January 2013 and six months later tweeted about a fall 2013 hearing on statehood.
During the August recess, there had been whispers among local activists that a mid-September hearing was in the works and committee aides confirmed a tentative time frame to CQ Roll Call. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who has been pushing statehood legislation since she came to Congress in 1991, trumpeted news of the hearing in a Monday afternoon statement. Full story
September 3, 2014
Updated 7:25 p.m. | Multinational computer software company Adobe is being accused of discriminating against District of Columbia residents.
When a D.C. business owner tried to register for “Adobe Day” at a tech conference in Portland, Ore., the person found the District of Columbia excluded from the drop-down menu of states. With no option for the District, it was impossible to input a local address.
The business owner logged his complaint with shadow Sen. Paul Strauss, a Democrat whose top priority is getting the District some recognition from Congress. Strauss took to Twitter to rail against Adobe.
— Senator Paul Strauss (@SenPaulStrauss) September 3, 2014
The District experienced similar treatment in early August from Push for Pizza, a smartphone app designed to streamline pie orders. After a backlash, the company briefly tried to correct the problem by having D.C. residents input Maryland or Virginia. That solution drew more criticism, so the folks at Push for Pizza updated the app.
“It’s bad enough when a new Pizza app discriminates, but Adobe is a serious company and should know better!” Strauss told CQ Roll Call. He added, ”Who do they think they are? The TSA!?!”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., has been tangoing with the Transportation Safety Administration over the validity of District of Columbia licenses. TSA agents at Arizona and Florida airports caused commotion earlier this year when they failed to recognize the city’s identification cards as legitimate ID.
Adobe’s tech team reached out to CQ Roll Call via Twitter shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday to say the error was brought to their attention “moments before” Strauss’ tweets and said a correction to the event registration page “is in motion.”
August 28, 2014
Mayor Vincent Gray is hailing an agreement between the District and the Department of Justice ending federal oversight of Saint Elizabeths Hospital as a “milestone” in his administration’s effort to loosen the federal government’s grip on local affairs.
On Thursday, the DOJ asked to dismiss a court-enforced settlement agreement that put the feds in charge of overseeing patient care at the city’s public psychiatric hospital. Deadly patient-on-patient assaults in 2005 placed the long-troubled facility on the DOJ’s radar for civil rights violations.
Federal officials oversaw the hospital for seven years, as D.C. worked with the Department of Behavioral Health to stop patient abuse and neglect and improve care and treatment. Under the terms of the June 2007 court order, St. Elizabeths was required to meet 224 performance benchmarks related to clinical discipline assessments, discharge planning and other problems. The agreement also required the hospital to submit bi-annual reports to DOJ and undergo bi-annual site visits. Full story
August 14, 2014
Coming up with a practical plan for management of the Washington, D.C.’s courts and prisons could be a great way to sell GOP deficit hawks on making it the 51st state, advocates pitching statehood for D.C. believe.
They’ll have their chance at an upcoming Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
Pro-statehood activist Josh Burch says they don’t yet have the answer to a “$600 million question” about how the District would take back control and payment for its criminal justice system, presently paid for by all American taxpayers and run by the federal government.
“I think it’s a really legitimate question,” Burch told CQ Roll Call.