Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) simply wanted to exercise his right as a member of Congress to impose his will on the District of Columbia and create a new law that governs mayoral appointees. The City Council was already considering a similar (& stronger) bill but Representative Issa wanted to make sure the District knew who really has the power: Congress. After a day or two of working with Council Chair Kwame Brown, Representative Issa has backed down from pushing his legislation forward but his point was heard, his point was scary, and its the reality we live in: the Congress, not the Mayor or the Council, has final say over the District and if we get out of line Congress will set us straight.
In his push to be our fake chief executive, Darrell Issa demonstrated why statehood is important for us. Presently, there are three bills before the House of Representatives sponsored by our Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton. The bills are as follows in brief:
- H.R. 265 would make the commercial and residential portions of the District the 51st state in the union, New Columbia. As such we’d have complete control over our budget, our courts, our laws and have equal representation in the US Congress afforded to all states. We would be a state like all the others. Follow link for full text of HR265
- H.R. 266 would only give the District two Senators and one member of the House but it would not prevent a majority in Congress from dictating what we should do with our budget or our laws. It would give us some federal protections/protectors but not enough and it would not give us back control over our court system. Follow link for full text of HR266
- H.R. 267 would give us one voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives which means we’d have little to no congressional power and no real ability to fend off an intrusive Congress. Follow link for full text of HR267
Darrel Issa’s actions (although he did ultimately back-off) demonstrate that H.R. 265 is the only bill that will protect us from congressional intrusion into local matters. Both H.R. 266 & 267 would be challenged constitutionally because the Constitution does not allow for congressional representation for non-states but those bills would also leave the District vulnerable to the majority will in the Congress. Even with full representation in the Congress as laid out in H.R. 266 the District could still have Congress intrude in local matters by simply out voting the District’s elected representatives.
Anything short of statehood leaves us vulnerable to the Darrel Issa’s and the John Boehner’s who want to use the District to score points with their political base. Statehood is our only protection and it is the only way to ensure that we share the political and civil rights of our neighbors in the first 50 states. It’s time for the 51st!