Thankfully, on July 31st, H.R. 3803, a bill to restrict the reproductive rights of women in the District of Columbia was defeated. The bill was voted on under suspension of the rules and thus failed because it did not get 2/3 of the vote (it did get 58% of the vote). This bill represents Congressional meddling at its worst but the floor debate did provide us with some insight into the minds of those who will continue to meddle in our affairs as long as our civil and political rights remain unchanged.
Trent Franks (R-Az), the sponsor of HR 3803, stated that it was important to have this bill in the District, “in the seat of freedom in America where Congress has the ultimate and clear responsibility to legislate.” Yep, although he’s wrong about the bill he’s right about Congressional authority to do such things. Although it seemingly violates both the principles of the American Revolution, the US Constitution and the DC Home Rule Charter it in no way violates the actual words of the Constitution or the Home Rule Charter. Sadly, he’s right. It is within the Constitution, Article I Section 8, for Congress to have ultimate legislative authority over the federal district.
To make matters worse, “Mean Jean” Schmidt joined the debate to proclaim “we have the right and the authority to do this because of the Constitution…” Having seen her on C-SPAN being just outright nasty to folks over the last few years, seeing her in National Airport with congressional colleagues intentionally avoiding talking to her, and seeing her outside the Cincinnati Airport not saying ‘hi’ to a soul it really pains me to agree with such a sour pill, but she’s right.
Trent Franks and Jean Schmidt undoubtedly care deeply about abortion and are ardently opposed to it but they showed their cards earlier today. They admitted that they were doing this simply because they could. Like any gutless bully they chose to pick on someone weaker, a District without a voice and without equal votes. They did it because the Constitution allows them to make cheap political points with their political piñata, called the District of Columbia.
Today, should be used as a lesson. One voting member in the House would not have prevented this charade; two US Senators would not have prevented this mockery of democracy; budget autonomy would not have prevented this appeasement to ideologues; only statehood would have prevented this, and that’s what we need to stay focused on.
To watch today’s House debate on HR 3803 follow this link and click on the debate a 5:46pm: http://houselive.gov/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=6333 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/dc-late-term-abortion-ban-fails-in-the-house/2012/07/31/gJQAUzunNX_blog.html?hpid=z5
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