District of Columbia

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The Democrats have taken over the District of Columbia and are now controlling billions of dollars of federal investment in infrastructure while attempting to misappropriate funds intended for a federal district originally created by Congress to house federal buildings like the White House. The District of Columbia should be federalized and the 1973 Home Rule Act reversed. Rather than allowing the District to elect its own mayor and city council, which can then dictate how federal funds should be spent for a federal district housing the nation's Capitol and its buildings, Congress should reverse the Home Rule Act and require instead that the heads of transit, police, homeless shelters, etc. within D.C. must be appointed either by Congress or the President.

There is currently a major movement by the Democrats to gain full local control over the District of Columbia and remove the right of Congress to intervene in the decision-making of the District that Congress itself created.[1] The movement, made up of at least 58 groups, is spearheaded by D.C. Vote in coordination with the ACLU, NAACP, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood.[2] The District has had numerous liberal laws blocked by Congress in the past related to abortion, marriage, and marijuana use.

Nonetheless, D.C. residents should have a right to vote for members of Congress. This could be achieved by allowing them to hold dual state citizenship, meaning they could be considered residents of Virginia, Maryland, or whichever second state they hold the closest ties to. Otherwise they are being disenfranchised from their Constitutional right to representation.

Historical Background

Origins

The 1790 Residence approved the creation of a district specifically to house the nation's capitol. This is consistent with Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which specifically authorizes Congress to designate a 10 mile square area to serve as the capitol of the United States. As such, control of the District of Columbia is clearly, per the U.S. Constitution, delegated to Congress.

“To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;"

The city of Washington was founded in 1791 following passage of the 1790 Organic Act. In 1801 Congress formally organized the District of Columbia and placed the entire territory under the exclusive control of the U.S. federal government.[3] Following passage of the 1801 Act, citizens of D.C. were no longer considered residents of either Maryland or Virginia, thus ending their representation in Congress.[4]

"The rule of the District commissioners over the city of Washington came to a close by the abolishment of the board in 1802, and the appointment of a superintendent. In the meantime, the Government of the United States was removed to Washington, Congress first convening there November 22, 1800, during he presidency of John Adams. Legal jurisdiction over the District of Columbia was assumed by Congress February 27, 1801, and the laws of Maryland and Virginia were declared in force. The city of Washington was incorporated by a Congressional enactment passed May 3, 1802, by which act the appointment of the mayor was vested in the President of the United States and there were established two branches of the City Council, the members of which were elected by the people on a general ticket. By this act the city of Washington was definitely established as a city, and was clothed with powers of municipal government."
-Harvey Crew et. al., "Centennial History of the City of Washington D.C."[3]

Home Rule

Following the 1973 Home Rule Act, Congress delegated some of its Congressional powers over the District to local government, allowing D.C. to elect its own mayor and city council.

Congressional Right to Block Laws

Congress did not fully delegate control to the D.C. Mayor and City Council however, and reserves, per the legislation, the right to block any laws passed by the D.C. Council; which power it has exercised several times. The following is quoted from Title VI, Section 602, as a sampling of the many restrictions enacted on the District of Columbia's local government:[5]

SEC. 602. [D.C. Code 1-233] (a) The Council shall have no authority to pass any act contrary to the provisions of this Act except as specifically provided in this Act, or to--
(1) impose any tax on property of the United States or any of the several states;
(2) lend the public credit for support of any private undertaking;
(3) enact any act, or enact any act to amend or repeal any Act of Congress, which concerns the functions or property of the United States or which is not restricted in its application exclusively in or to the District;
(4) enact any act, resolution, or rule with respect to any provision of title 11 of the District of Columbia Code (relating to organization and jurisdiction of the District of Columbia courts);
(5) impose any tax on the whole or any portion of the personal income, either directly or at the source thereof, of any individual not a resident of the District (the terms "individual" and "resident" to be understood for the purposes of this paragraph as they are defined in section 4 of title I of the District of Columbia Income and Franchise Tax Act of 1947[, approved July 16, 1947 (61 Stat. 332; D.C. Code 47-1801.4)]);
(6) enact any act, resolution, or rule which permits the building of any structure within the District of Columbia in excess of the height limitations contained in section 5 of the Act of June 1, 1910 [An Act To regulate the height of buildings in the District of Columbia (36 Stat. 453)] (D.C. Code, sec. 5-405), and in effect on the date of enactment of this Act [December 24, 1973];
(7) enact any act, resolution, or regulation with respect to the Commission on Mental Health;
(8) enact any act or regulation relating to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or any other court of the United States in the District other than the District courts, or relating to the duties or powers of the United States Attorney or the United States Marshal for the District of Columbia;
(9) enact any act, resolution, or rule with respect to any provision of title 23 of the District of Columbia Code (relating to criminal procedure), or with respect to any provision of any law codified in title 22 or 24 of the District of Columbia Code (relating to crimes and treatment of prisoners), or with respect to any criminal offense pertaining to articles subject to regulation under chapter 32 of title 22 during the forty-eight full calendar months immediately following the day on which the members of the Council first elected pursuant to this Act take office; or
(10) enact any act, resolution, or rule with respect to the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority established under section 101(a) of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act of 1995 [, approved April 17, 1995 ( 109 Stat. 100; D.C. Code 47-391.1(a))].
(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as vesting in the District government any greater authority over the National Zoological Park, the National Guard of the District of Columbia, the Washington Aqueduct, the National Capital Planning Commission, or, except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act, over any federal agency, than was vested in the Commissioner [Mayor] prior to the effective date of title IV [District Charter] of this Act [January 2, 1975].

Examples

  • In 1988 Congress voted to block D.C. from using Medicaid funds to cover abortion services. This was repealed in 2009 but reinstated in 2011.[1]
  • In 1992 Congress voted to block D.C.'s Health Care Benefits Expansion Act which allowed registration of homosexuals to register as domestic partners. The block was lifted in 2001.[1]
  • In 1996 Congress voted to block D.C.'s Clean Needle Exchange Program Law. It wasn't until 2007 that the block was lifted.[6]
  • In 1998 Congress voted to block D.C.'s Initiative 59 (Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998) through the Barr Amendment. After the courts ruled Congress' action was unconstitutional, Congress in 2000 passed an amendment to overturn Initiative 59, which it reversed in 2009, thus allowing D.C.'s medical marijuana law to go into effect.[7]
  • In 2014 Congress voted to block D.C.'s Initiative 71 (Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014) by stopping funds from being used to enact laws, rules, or regulations in support of the initiative.[8]

Potential Solutions

As mentioned, the 1973 Home Rule Act should be revoked. Washington D.C. should not be allowed to hold local elections which give power over federal territory to a few corrupted bureaucrats who have grown obviously corrupt and are misappropriating federal funds as a result.

Nonetheless, D.C. residents should have a right to vote for members of Congress. This could be achieved by allowing them to hold dual state citizenship, meaning they could be considered either residents of Virginia or Maryland, depending on which state they hold the closest ties to. Otherwise they are being disenfranchised from their Constitutional right to representation.

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Ending Congressional Interference." DCVote.
  2. "July 2017 Letter to Congress." D.C. Vote.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Crew, Harvey W.; Webb, William Bensing; Wooldridge, John (1892). "Centennial History of the City of Washington, D. C." p. 103. Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House.
  4. (2006, September 14). "Statement on the subject of The District of Columbia Fair and Equal Voting Rights Act." American Bar Association.
  5. "Title VI: Reservation of Congressional Authority." District of Columbia Home Rule Act.
  6. Goldstein, Avram (1998, December 2). "City Blocks Needle Exchange Effort." Washington Post.
    "Letter to the House on Needle Exchange in D.C. Appropriations Bill." American Civil Liberties Union.
    Almendrala, Anna (2015, September 3). "Washington D.C. Is Proof That Needle Exchanges Save Lives." Huffington Post.
  7. "Democracy Held Hostage." American Civil Liberties Union.
    "Congress Lifts Ban on Medical Marijuana for Nation's Capitol." Americans for Safe Access.
  8. Marijuana Policy Project (2010, July 27). "D.C. Medical Marijuana Law Clears Congressional Hurdle!" MPP Blog.