Earlier this evening after giving a brief update on the Statehood Committee at the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association meeting a BNCA member stopped me in the parking lot to ask a question: “Don’t you think it would be better if we spent our time trying to get budget autonomy and legislative autonomy instead of Statehood?” He continued “I’ve donated to DC Vote and I get their emails and mailings and just think we spend too much time and money on Statehood when we should be focusing on legislative and budget autonomy.” My response was that actually I feel the reverse is true.
Presently, the District, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and DC Vote seem to be spending all of their time on either a vote in the House or budget autonomy or statues in the Capitol and the same hurdles keep coming up. We’re told we’re not a state so we can’t have equal representation; we’re told we’re not a state so we can’t have two statues; we’re told we’re not a state so Congress should make reproductive rights decisions for our women; and we’re told we’re not a state so Congress must decide how tall our buildings should be. Our problem isn’t that we’ve spent too much time and money on statehood rather our problem is that we’ve spent too little time and money on Statehood.
As Darrell Issa dangled budget autonomy in front of District leaders all eyes were turned to the false god of budget autonomy. Sure, budget autonomy would be a step forward but it’s not an end in and of itself. People like Rand Paul are lurking behind the bushes to attach their social policy riders to budget autonomy bills, thus ruining the whole “autonomy” part of budget autonomy. What’s lost on many people in Congress and throughout the District is that there’s only one true and solid DC Autonomy Bill: H.R. 265, The New Columbia Admission Act.
Anyone, from Brookland to the Mayor’s office to Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office who thinks that budget autonomy will stand on its own through the test of time must have an unwavering trust in Congress, I don’t. Even if we passed a clean budget autonomy bill this year a new Congress in January 2013 could be more emboldened to meddle in our affairs to start a pet project or to rally their base by imposing a social policy bill on us. All of these autonomy bills are only good if we think we can trust Congress, if we can’t vote for them why should we trust them.
I will be staying focused on Statehood because 200+ years of Congressional meddling and manipulation is enough for me to not trust Congress. But I do have 618,000 neighbors I do trust in and together we can pass the ultimate autonomy bill: The New Columbia Admission Act.
Join us in the push for New Columbian Statehood: firstname.lastname@example.org
BTW…if you haven’t notice the New Columbia Admission Act has more cosponsors than the other “DC representation bills”…that’s right, Statehood has more support!!!