United, We Can Do This!

Earlier this summer we embarked on an initiative to build support for the New Columbia Admission Act (DC statehood bill) in the Senate in the lead up to a promised hearing by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE). Senator Carper, through staff, continues to reaffirm his commitment to holding a hearing on the bill this year but to date our summer initiative has yielded no new cosponsors on the bill. With the Senate going into recess for the month of August this is our last week to add cosponsors before the break so let’s make one last push before the recess!

Our 12 target Senators have all expressed support for the District in the past and some have legislative records in support of statehood for the people of DC (Sens. Leahy, Cantwell, Menendez, & Wyden). Please email the following staff members and ask that their bosses add their names to S. 132, the New Columbia Admission. If we getting 5 people emailing them it will get their attention but if we get 20-30 people emailing it’ll be hard for them to ignore us so let’s all send emails to the staff members in the 12 Senate offices listed in this link: SummerAssignment2014

With congressional attempts at meddling in District affairs reaching a fevered pitch of late combined with the President’s support for statehood last week there couldn’t be a more opportune time to call on our supporters to finally add their names to the statehood bill.

Emails can be brief (ie. Please ask Senator X to had her/his name to S. 132 & take a stand for equality for the people of the District of Columbia) or they can be more lengthy. Most importantly we need to send these emails this week. Let’s add cosponsors to this bill to help show Senator Carper there is support for his bill not just in the Senate but across the country.

United, we can do this!

Josh

Brookland

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Businesses for Statehood

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Capitol Hill is more than the name of the hill upon which the US Capitol sits, it’s a diverse and wonderful neighborhood in the District where people live, work, pay taxes, play, shop, eat, and drink. It’s also a neighborhood where many people who work in Congress live and frequent businesses so this summer Neighbors United & the DC Statehood Coalition are embarking on an advocacy initiative to get businesses located in Capitol Hill (liberally defined borders) to post signs in support of “Statehood for the People of DC.”

Members of Congress and their staff need to see that statehood is a priority of the people of the District and businesses on the Hill can play an important role in helping to articulate that message by posting the statehood signs in their windows or behind their counters to show their support for the cause. So if you’re a Capitol Hill business please let us know if you want a sign to post in your window and we’ll get one to you. If you frequent Capitol Hill businesses feel free to ask them where their “Statehood for the People of DC” sign is if they don’t have one up. We want members of Congress and their staff to see that statehood is a our cause whether they’re picking up their laundry, going to the gym, grabbing dinner, or meeting someone for drinks.

Let’s have the people of Capitol Hill send a clear message to those lovely legislators on the Hill that all District citizens want and deserve fair and equal treatment as the 51st state in the union.

The Argonaut led the way posting signs and a couple of places in Brookland, Askale Café & Brookland Café, have stepped up too but our main focus will be the Hill for this current endeavor. Get your sign now by emailing us at the address below.

Josh Burch

unitedforstatehood@gmail.com

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The Unfulfilled Promise of the 4th of July

As the United States of America celebrated the anniversary of the founding of our country I hope that Americans, especially our friends in the Senate and the House, took time to reflect upon the fact that the system of taxation without representation which our nation was founded in opposition to is still alive and unwell for the citizens of our nation’s capital. I was born and raised in the District of Columbia and I’m now raising a family here and find it hard to believe that over 200 years after our country’s founding we still have found a way to make me, my family, and our 650,000 neighbors whole and complete American citizens.

Our founders created an imperfect democracy where initially only white male property owners over the age of 21 were allowed to vote. Over time through strength, struggle, and perseverance we’ve expanded the franchise to all those over 18 regardless of race or gender. Yet while we have the right to vote here in the nation’s capital we cannot vote for members of Congress nor do we have the final say over our own local affairs. Congress continues to meddle in our local affairs, manipulate our budget and policies and we have no voting members of Congress able to fight such intrusions.

It’s time to fulfill the promise of America by continuing to make a more perfect union by admitting the residential and commercial portions of the District of Columbia as the 51st state. In early 2013 Senator Carper sponsored S. 132, the New Columbia Admission Act (aka DC statehood bill). While this is the first time the bill was seriously offered since 1993 in the Senate there has been progress made with a growing list of cosponsors and a promise by Senator Carper to hold a hearing on the bill. Despite progress on the bill there still remains a lot of left ahead of us to build support for the bill. Earlier this summer we began to focus our advocacy efforts on a select group of Senators in the hopes that they’ll add their name to the bill as cosponsors and to date none of these Senators have signed on to the bill.

It’s time to redouble our efforts to ensure that Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Michael Bennet (D-CO)Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)Maria Cantwell (D-WA)Mazie Hirono (D-HI)Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)Patrick Leahy (D-VT)Robert Menendez (D-NJ)Chris Murphy (D-CT)Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) step up and put their names on a bill that does nothing more than declare a group of Americans equal to their constituents. On the heels of the anniversary of our country’s founding what could be more appropriate than a group of Senators standing up and speaking out to end taxation without representation? The aforementioned Senators are people of strong convictions and have great equal rights track records, it’s now time for them to stand up for and with the people of the District of Columbia.

 

Josh Burch

Brookland, DC

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March for Statehood on July 4th in the Palisades Parade

Marching for Statehood in the Palisades Parade

Marching for Statehood in the Palisades Parade

Join statehood supporters and the DC Statehood Coalition this July 4th for the annual Palisades Parade!

Bring your statehood shirts, signs, or banners if you can, but red or red/white t-shirts in general are encouraged. And make sure to bring some water too!

The parade will kick off at 11 am but we’ll line up with statehood supporters at 10:30am near the intersection of Whitehaven Parkway & MacArthur Blvd. NW.

Please join the event and share it on the DC Statehood Coalition’s Facebook Page

After the parade, enjoy some cold drinks and summertime food courtesy of the Palisades Citizens Association.

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Treat the Illness not the Symptoms

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) seems to have gotten his way in the House appropriations process by getting an amendment passed that would prevent the District from using our own funds to implement our recently passed marijuana decriminalization law. District citizens and leaders, including myself, are rightfully upset about this congressional intrusion into local matters but this case is not in isolation, this case is merely a symptom of our overall illness which is our colonial status. We can’t lose focus that there were other riders in that appropriations bill unique to the District and this is not the first year this absurdity has occurred.

As long as we’re a colony members of Congress will restrict our ability to spend our money on reproductive services for women. As long as we’re a colony our budget can be held hostage by congressional ideologues. As long as we’re a colony we’ll be denied full and equal representation in national debates and votes on tax policy, drug policy, issues of war and peace, and all other issues before Congress. Our focus has got to be on changing our unequal status first and foremost.

We should be angry about Rep. Harris’ actions but we also should be mad about all the other injustices imposed on us because of our status and Congress’ inability to control itself. Moving forward the District should:

  1. Fight these riders and speak to our friends on the Senate Appropriations Committee and ask them to strip the riders (yes, the Senate Appropriations Chair is Senator Barbara Mikulski, a long-time statehood supporter).
  2. Ask the President to consider vetoing the bill, though his record of standing up for the District is rather weak.
  3. Ignore all of the riders outright if they become law in a similar fashion advocated last year during the government shutdown by Ken Archer.

We can’t however lose sight that fighting these individual riders is nothing more than fighting the symptoms of an illness. Yes, symptoms are bad, inconvenient, and troublesome but we have to fight the larger illness which is our unequal status.

It is only when we’re a state that this meddling will stop. Only by being a state state will we have permanent full and equal congressional representation, irrevocable budget freedom, and only by being a state can we ensure protections from having members of Congress wave Article I Section 8 in our face justifying their intrusions into our local affairs.

We need all of our citizens to get active, we need to be engaged on the Hill not just complaining about getting screwed by a meddlesome Congress but building support for ending this unjust system by achieving statehood (complete our Summer Assignment). When we reach out to the Senate and ask them to remove these riders we also need to ask the members of the Appropriations Committee who are not on the statehood bill, S. 132, to sign on to it. If we have to ask President Obama to veto the Appropriations bill we should also ask him to go further publicly than he ever has by also endorsing statehood (he has endorsed budget autonomy already). And while we’re taking on this fight we need to keep reminding the American public what our end game is and how they can help us get there.

The District, as usual, got screwed in the Appropriations process but all is not lost. Let’s stop fighting the symptoms and redouble our efforts to fight the illness and work, struggle, and strive for statehood like we have never done before.

Josh Burch

 

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