DC is Offered a Vote in Congress

DC is Offered a Vote by Congress

Washingtonians paid Federal Income Tax yesterday, but they still have no vote in the U.S. Congress. Taxation Without Representation. Ring a bell?

When the laws establishing the District of Columbia were created, the founders were too busy bargaining about the National Debt to consider representation of future DC residents, and their negligence has been preserved as if it were intentional. Leaders starting with Andrew Jackson tried to correct this undemocratic oversight, but Congress had inadvertently created a little playpen in DC, where congressmen could throw their weight around without consequences, and they enjoyed it. Two centuries later, they still do.

Pending legislation (S 160 and HR 157) would remedy two centuries of Congressional neglect by granting DC a vote in the House of Representatives. Democracy might finally come to the 600,000 American citizens who live in the Capital of the Free World, but there’s a hitch.

A man of strong moral principles, Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada (State motto: Meretricis et Alea, “Whores and Gambling”) has added a completely unrelated amendment to the bill. It would throw out gun laws established by the District’s duly elected officials and mandate interstate gun sales (illegal everywhere else in the country). Washington residents would be allowed to buy firearms in Maryland and Virginia.

DC’s police chief and attorney general have testified against this reckless amendment. Maryland officials have called the legislation unworkable. Officials in Virginia (where many citizens are “straw buyers” for criminals from other states) are too busy commemorating the Virginia Tech massacre and preserving their Gun Show Loophole to comment on the Ensign Amendment.

A Congressional vote for DC is one thing; local public safety laws are quite another. If Mr. Ensign doesn’t like DC’s laws, let him move here, establish residency, register to vote, and elect officials who share his views. If he wants to pass a national law, one that would allow Nevada residents to buy guns in neighboring Utah, Arizona, California, Idaho and Oregon, let him explain that to the merchants of Las Vegas, Reno, and Carson City. Two separate issues; they require two separate bills.

There’s a name for depriving people of their freedom and holding them hostage at gunpoint. It’s called piracy.

 

To understand the DC Vote issue, please read “Congress Has the Authority to Do Right by D.C.” by Kenneth Starr and Patricia M. Wald, and “10 Myths about the District of Columbia,” by dcvote.org (compulsory reading for would-be commenters).

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length. Not all comments are posted. Got a problem with that? Write about it on your own blog.

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6 Responses to “DC is Offered a Vote in Congress”

  1. citizenw Says:

    The Constitution says “people OF the several states”, not people “residing in” the several states. Even Americans who have lived abroad for decades, and have no intention of returning, are allowed to vote, in the state in which they last resided.

    DC, a part of the original thirteen colonies, is part and parcel, progeny and Posterity of the Founders who pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor to secure Liberty.

    DC residents are not people of the African deserts, nor of the Argentinian pampas, nor of the Artic tundra, nor of the Asian steppes. They are “of” the several states. They have an inalienable (innate, inherent, intrinsic) right, as full members belonging to this nation, to participate in the making of the laws under which we all must live.

    Government Without Consent, “in all cases whatosoever”, is Illegitimate Tyranny, a raw and corrupt exercise of unwarranted Absolute Power, “because we can”.

    “[Congress], with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but “to bind us in all cases whatsoever,” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.”

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Citizen W:

    Fine sentiments, if a bit long.

    More to the point, when Congress ratified the Constitution, every single resident of the United States lived in a state — there were no U.S. territories, possessions, protectorates, or colonies — and no District of Columbia. The Constitution effectively guaranteed representation to all American citizens. Starr and Waldman explain this.

  3. DCDC Says:

    Yes, the gun amendment sucks, but make no mistake, this is purely the fault of the DC city council. They had 3 opportunities to get it right and failed. I and many others warned them that their unconstitutional new rules would either lose in court or invite Congressional intervention. There is no leadership on the issue and because of their petulance, we will lose the best opportunity we’ve had for a vote.

  4. Mike Licht Says:

    DCDC: We disagree on the constitutionality of the revised DC legislation, but the rhetoric accompanying passage of the new laws was certainly provocative, and the current situation is the result.

    It also is an example of why a DC vote is so necessary to protect the 600,000 US citizens residing in the District from the whimsy and ill-intentioned actions of the lobbyist-bought U.S. Congress.

  5. Burgers and Bedfellows « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] Chaffetz also says DC doesn’t need a vote in Congress since he will represent Washington’s citizens. Why does the Congressman feel no qualms about […]

  6. Guns and DC « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] a single House vote to the 600,000 American citizens of the Nation’s Capital, inserting a Poison Pill amendment into the bill, a measure repealing local safety laws regulating firearms in this densely […]

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