Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington, D.C. and several members of the D.C. City Council were arrested Monday night as they blocked traffic on Constitution Avenue next to the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The officials had gathered along with over 200 city residents to protest restrictions on D.C. funding included in last Friday’s Congressional budget deal.
They sat for half an hour, chanting, “No justice, no peace,” before being arrested by U.S. Capitol Police. Forty-one people were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly. The activist group DC Vote organized the protest.
The Congressional budget deal on Friday, which averted a government shutdown, prohibited D.C. from using its own locally raised funds to pay for abortions for low-income women. The budget deal also financed a school voucher program, controversial among D.C. leaders.
“I’m tired of being a pawn in a political game,” Mayor Gray said before being arrested, according to The Washington Post. “All we want is to be able to spend our own money.”
The Constitution denies D.C. the right of self-government by authorizing Congress “[t]o exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District.” D.C. has gained greater authority over its affairs since 1791, but—as this budget deal shows—not nearly enough.
All laws and budgets passed by the D.C. Council must be sent to Congress for approval. So that’s one problem: the Congressional veto over D.C.’s local democracy. The other problem: D.C has no voice in the Senate and its delegate to the House cannot vote. The reason: partisan silencing of the 86% of D.C. voters who cast ballots for Obama in 2008.
Residents of D.C., which at 600,000 is more populous than Wyoming, lack that basic democratic right: to have a voice in decisions that affect them. Some 235 years since the original tea partiers protested taxation without representation, the slogan still bites.
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Is this really new? I mean for years the only people truely represented by the government is large companies and lobbyists. But what can be done? Taxation without representation has been the standard and as far as I know is not illegal. Those in the military have never truely been represented except for those that violate their oath and join organizations that, in turn, hire lobbyists. It seems to me that the Oath to support and defend the constitution, is violated when the representative democracy is allowed to become a lobbyist democracy instead of ensuring that congressmen vote in accordance with their constituancy, regardless of the views of lobbyists. Since the US military is not centralized in a specific area the elected officials can not truely uphold their intrests and the intrests of those that reside in their geographicly defined area of constituants. I for one see no way to ever consider a politician as even remotely capable of representing anyone, and certainly wish there was a law that would prevent the country from taxing me without, at least, providing some form of representation within the United States Government.