On April 16th, 2012 District citizens worked the hallways of the House of Representatives to lobby for support for HR 265, the New Columbia Admission Act. After breaking up into citizen teams from Brookland, Mount Pleasant, Capitol Hill and a few other neighborhoods we visited the offices of the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Our teams visited 58 congressional offices and had meetings with legislative staff in 8 offices. With 19 cosponsors on the bill on April 15th our goal was to get up to 30 cosponsors as the result of our lobby day and hopefully over 51 by the 4th of July. A few offices when contacted to request a meeting signed onto the bill without need for a meeting, they were simply unaware that the bill had been offered.
The Statehood Bill looks like it won’t gain legislative traction this Congress but now is the time to start building coalitions of support. The Progressive Caucus has long championed civil rights causes and Statehood for the commercial and residential portions of the District is the last remaining cause of the Civil Rights Era. Our hope is that the entire Progressive Caucus signs on to the bill and says “yes, we believe that the citizens of the District of Columbia deserve Statehood so that they can finally become full and equal citizens.”
Although we only focused on the Progressive Caucus, this is not a Democratic (big D) cause, this is a democratic cause (small d) and we also need to reach out to the Tea Party Caucus because they too should join us. The Tea Party believes in a limited federal government and Statehood would reduce federal intrusion into local matters, specifically by letting us make our own laws and budgetary decisions but also by making the State of New Columbia be responsible for managing and funding our local courts. Presently, the District courts are now paid for by the federal government. Giving the District control and financial responsibility of our local courts would take $242 million off the federal deficit.
The Tea Party believes in an original intent interpretation of the constitution and in Article I Section 8 the only mention of the federal district is that it should not exceed 100 square miles. So under the original intent reading Statehood is in line with that because the federal district would be shrunk, as it was in 1846, to a smaller geographic area made up of the White House, Capitol, Mall, surrounding federal buildings and the military bases on the two rivers. The Tea Party should be with us just like the Progressive Caucus because Statehood for New Columbia is in line with both group’s core principles. Both groups believe in the power of people to control their own destiny and in a democratic society that begins with the right to vote and the right to control your own affairs.
We did not focus on the Tea Party on the 16th but have reached out to them and will continue to do so because they should also be our allies. We have a lot of work left to do but April 16th was a step in the right direction and we need to work all caucuses in the House for allies and begin reaching out to the Senate to find allies there as well.
Should you want more information on our lobby day or want to join us for future lobby days or community based educational activities email us at firstname.lastname@example.org