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July 25, 2014

Posts in "DC Statehood"

July 23, 2014

For D.C. Statehood Activists, Obama’s Actions Leave ‘a Lot to Be Desired’

dcvote 08 033011 1 440x294 For D.C. Statehood Activists, Obamas Actions Leave a Lot to Be Desired

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When voters elected Barack Obama in 2008, District of Columbia residents were thrilled to see a senator who backed a bill to give them voting rights in Congress head to the White House.

Midway through his second term, however, many ardent supporters of the D.C.’s longtime quest for greater autonomy are less optimistic about the prospects of Obama aiding their cause. The District still doesn’t have budget autonomy or legislative autonomy, meaning local laws are still vulnerable to interference from members of Congress.

“His actions over the last six years leave a lot to be desired,” Josh Burch, a Brookland resident who heads the group Neighbors United for DC Statehood, said in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call. Burch and other activists were pleased to hear the president declare his full-fledged support for D.C. statehood during a town hall meeting in Northwest Washington, but there is still a gap between the sentiment and concrete steps toward statehood. Full story

July 22, 2014

D.C. Residents Keep Facing Questions About Identification

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One form of D.C. ID should be enough, according to Norton. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A District of Columbia driver’s license should be enough identification to allow citizens to board a plane or enter a federal building, according to federal and local officials. So how come there’s so much confusion on the topic?

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., plans to meet with top Transportation Security Administration officials soon to clear up continuing problems D.C. residents face when trying to use their District-issued licenses for identification.

The issue is coming to a head at the nation’s airports and as states attempt to comply with the REAL ID act, which aims to set minimum security standards for forms of identification that are used to enter federal buildings and travel in a federally regulated manner.  Full story

July 17, 2014

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

gun presser018 071714 440x292 Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Alfred Durham, prepare for a news conference in Rayburn on a House passed amendment by Rep. Thomas Massie’s, R-Ky., that would “block D.C. from enforcing its local gun laws, as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Services and General Services Appropriations bill,” July 17, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is optimistic about Senate support for an appropriations rider that would dismantle local gun laws in the District of Columbia, but he doubts the chamber will consider the measure.

“Twenty rank-and-file Democrats in the House voted for the amendment, and I know Democrats in the Senate would vote for the amendment,” Massie said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “But I suspect that Harry Reid will do everything he can to prevent that vote from happening.”

The Senate majority leader’s office did not respond to questions about Massie’s pro-gun proposal, which would make D.C. perhaps the most permissive jurisdiction in the nation. Neither did some of the vulnerable red-state Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee who are up for re-election in November — Alaska’s Mark Begich and Louisiana’s Mary L. Landrieu — who have also advocated greater autonomy for the District. Full story

July 15, 2014

Once Again, TSA Gives D.C. Resident Grief About License (Video)

Did you hear the one about the Transportation Safety Administration agent who didn’t realize the District of Columbia is part of the United States? No, really.

Although it appeared TSA Administrator John S. Pistole set the record straight in February on driver’s licenses issued in Washington, D.C. after a District resident ran into trouble flying out of Arizona, less than five months later the problem has reemerged.

WFTV Washington correspondent Justin Gray was stopped by an agent at the Orlando International Airport earlier this week who did not recognize Gray’s D.C. license as a valid form of identification. Gray said his license is legal and up-to-date, according to the station, but the TSA agent didn’t seem to know what the District of Columbia was and wanted to see a passport.

Eventually Gray was able to get through security. He stopped to complain to a TSA supervisor and tweeted about the problem. In response to the tweet, a TSA spokesman contacted Gray to confirm that a District of Columbia license is an acceptable form of ID. WFTV reports that the agency says all TSA agents in Orlando are now being shown copies of the D.C. license.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:03 p.m.
DC Statehood

July 14, 2014

D.C. Council Pitches New White House Address: ’1600 D.C. Statehood Now Way’

sequester 069 031113 440x317 D.C. Council Pitches New White House Address: 1600 D.C. Statehood Now Way

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest that pass by the White House would be deemed “D.C. Statehood Now Way,” under a bill being floated by the D.C. Council.

The symbolic street rename “sends a strong message to the leader of our free nation and the millions of visitors to our nation’s capital that until D.C. achieves statehood … we are not truly free,” said Councilmember Yvette Alexander, the Ward 7 Democrat who introduced the bill. Five other members of the council are co-sponsoring the measure.

Alexander said she was inspired by the July Fourth holiday, and the Founding Fathers who “declared the independence for which they fought.”

“We in the District of Columbia continue to fight for what every other citizen of the United States has by right, whether it be medical marijuana, penalties for marijuana, guns, women’s reproductive health, our skyline, our tax base, our budget, the passage of our laws, our form of government, and our representation in the national legislature,” she said.

“We’re ultimately controlled by Congress — a body of 535 voting members who could only be there because they don’t live here,” Alexander continued. “No other state must endure the same as the citizens of the District of Columbia.”

The council has been on a street-christening kick lately. In late May, Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., and some powerful members of the House asked District officials to consider renaming a street outside the Chinese Embassy in Northwest Washington to honor jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Responding to Wolf’s request, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced a resolution that would dub the four lanes of traffic that separate the East Front from the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress as “D.C. No Taxation Without Representation Way.”

Local lawmakers supported the Liu Xiaobo rename, and the message it would send about human rights abuses, but indicated that they didn’t have the power to change the name of federal property. Congress would have to do the legislative lifting.

Alexander’s proposal to symbolically rename the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest would require an affirmative vote of the D.C. Council and approval by the mayor. Congress would then have 30 legislative days to review the White House street rename.

Ward 1 Democrat Jim Graham, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the District should use every opportunity to send a message to the people and the federal officials who have the power to grant D.C. greater autonomy. He called D.C.’s struggle for statehood the “last civil rights cause — or one of the last civil rights causes in America today for which there has been no progress whatsoever.”

June 26, 2014

Norton Challenger Thinks a Transformed District Deserves a New Delegate

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Krepp is an independent candidate to be the District’s congressional delegate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While Washington’s streetscape, city government and demographics have changed dramatically over the past quarter-century, its representation in Congress has stayed constant over roughly the same period of time.

District voters first elected Eleanor Holmes Norton to be their non-voting delegate to the House in 1990, as a crack epidemic and related surge of violence made the city notorious as the nation’s “murder capital.”

During the mid-1990s, she helped the city navigate a series of managerial crises that led Congress to take control of D.C.’s finances and fought against further erosion of home rule. She routinely won re-election with more than 90 percent of the vote throughout the 2000s, as she worked to soften some Capitol Hill attitudes toward the revived and growing city. This April, she began cruising toward a 13th term with 97 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.

Local tour guide and historian Tim Krepp looks at all the changes the city has undergone during Norton’s 24 years in Congress — from budget deficits to surpluses, from an exodus to the suburbs to some of the nation’s fastest urban population growth — and says it’s time for voters to re-evaluate whom they want advocating for their interests on Capitol Hill. Full story

June 17, 2014

Street Separating Capitol From Supreme Court Could Become ‘D.C. No Taxation Without Representation Way’

supreme court 053 100511 440x290 Street Separating Capitol From Supreme Court Could Become D.C. No Taxation Without Representation Way

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The D.C. Council answered Congress’ request to christen a city street on behalf of a pro-democracy cause with a request of its own: Let’s give streets surrounding Congress a new, pro-D.C. rights label.

A resolution introduced Tuesday would dub the four lanes of traffic that separate the East Front from the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress as ”D.C. No Taxation Without Representation Way.”

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson pitched the idea during a noon legislative meeting at the John A. Wilson building in downtown Washington. Full story

May 27, 2014

DC Vote Presses Senators on Autonomy, Citing Support for NFL Name Change

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The 50 senators advocating a name change for the Washington Redskins out of respect for tribal sovereignty are being asked to take a stand on behalf of the District’s quest for greater autonomy.

DC Vote sent a letter on May 23 urging each senator to support three pieces of legislation to advance D.C. autonomy, including the “New Columbia Admission Act,” a bill to grant the District statehood that is sponsored by Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Thomas R. Carper, D-Del.

The May 22 letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell claims the city’s football team is “on the wrong side of history.”

DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry hopes senators recognize that a similar logic applies to the plight of the disenfranchised citizens of the District, who have no voting representation on Capitol Hill. 

“Congress can put the United States on the right side of history,” Perry said in a release. “We hope the Senators who feel compelled to weigh in on this issue will also take the time to consider how the unjust denial of democracy in the capital of the United States looks to people around the world.”

The full text of the letter is below: Full story

April 10, 2014

Begich Introduces D.C. Autonomy Bills

Mark Begich 8 032013 440x292 Begich Introduces D.C. Autonomy Bills

Begich followed through with a promise made at his 52nd birthday party to help D.C. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mark Begich kept his birthday party promise to D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss, introducing two bills on Thursday that, if passed, would result in greater autonomy for the District of Columbia.

Strauss called the Alaska Democrat a “man of his word,” in an interview with CQ Roll Call, referring to Begich’s promise to introduce legislation in early April that would grant D.C. budget and legislative autonomy from Congress.

The D.C. Budget Accountability Act would amend the Home Rule Act to eliminate the District’s obligation to have its budget approved by Congress before it is implemented. It would also permit the city to set its own fiscal calendar. Full story

Colbert Owes D.C., Says Nemesis Eleanor Holmes Norton

Moments before Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., headed to the floor to school a nearly empty House chamber on the District’s case for statehood, some exciting news broke: CBS tapped comedian and Norton frenemy Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman behind the “Late Show” desk.

Colbert2 440x287 Colbert Owes D.C., Says Nemesis Eleanor Holmes Norton

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“He did?!” the congresswoman exclaimed, a smile spreading across her face when CQ Roll Call informed her of the news in the Speaker’s lobby.

Prime time for “The Colbert Show” host, who has declared Norton his “nemesis,” could mean more prominence for the push to make D.C. the 51st state.

“I can only hope that Colbert knows that the District of Columbia contributed to his elevation,” Norton said, “while he was doing all he could to deprecate the residents of our city for not having the same rights that he has.”

Norton vowed to hold him to accountable and demand that he make amends in his new role.

She had just finished a 30-minute speech on equality for the District, the culmination of a week-long campaign from the House floor planned to raise awareness for the cause in advance of D.C. Emancipation Day on April 16. The holiday, meant to cast D.C.’s disenfranchisement as a civil rights struggle, commemorates the day in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln freed 3,100 enslaved African Americans in the District.

“Even 150 years after D.C. led in the emancipation of slaves, no other country limits the rights of citizens because they happen to live in their nation’s capital,” Norton said in her speech, pointing to a floor chart about the recent United Nations Human Rights Committee’s recent report decrying D.C.’s lack of voting rights on Capitol Hill.

Her props included a floor chart showing that the District’s population of nearly 650,000 is greater than that of two states, Wyoming and Alaska, who have voting representatives in Congress, and another showing D.C. residents pay more federal taxes per person than the residents of any of the 50 states.

Asked if she might take the floor charts along with her next time she talks to Colbert, Norton said they might be a good prop.

“Those flow charts might help me since he has the microphone to talk back to him in ways that he will not be able to rebut,” she said.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:49 p.m.
DC Statehood

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