The Honorable Paul Ryan,
Mr. Speaker, I am saddened and dismayed to see House Republicans obsessed with controlling the people, the laws, and the budget of the District of Columbia. With your consent Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and others are actively working to overturn the Budget Autonomy referendum which was approved by District voters with an 83% affirmative vote. The people of the District spoke with a loud and clear voice in support of budget autonomy and a court of law sided with us as well. The foundation of U.S. system of government is based on the premise that government derives its power from the consent of the people yet you now lead a House of Representatives that has sadly strayed far from that core principle. You believe that we, the free people of the District of Columbia, need to be “reined in” just because we want to control how we spend our own tax dollars.
I work for the District government. I serve the people of the District with pride and honor. There is no greater privilege to me than knowing that each day I get up and do my best to ensure that the District’s environment is cleaner, greener, and more sustainable. I believe that I am a good public servant and that public service is an honorable profession. I am proud that the place of my birth is also where my children were born and are being raised and that I spend every day trying to make it a better place for them, their friends, and our neighbors.
And yet you want to tell me that I would be breaking the law by going to work and spending locally raised dollars without your permission should you repeal budget autonomy. The D.C. Superior Court sided with the voters of the District and said budget autonomy is the law of the land and that we should be able to spend $10 billion of our own locally raised dollars without a congressional appropriation process. I fully realize that Congress has ultimate legislative control over the District (until we achieve statehood) but just because Congress has that power doesn’t mean you should use or abuse it by moving forward with a repeal.
Should Budget Autonomy be repealed I wanted to let you know that as an employee of the District of Columbia and as a servant of the people of the District I am ready and willing to go to work and spend their dollars, our dollars, to improve the city we love without your consent.
You and other House leaders have threatened legal repercussions for our Mayor and our Council should they move forward with budget autonomy. This issue affects us all not just our elected leaders. I hope and trust that my brothers and sisters in the rank and file of District government are ready to take a stand too. Are you willing to arrest and prosecute District government employees for picking up the trash, helping children cross the street, managing a recreation center, assisting the elderly, figuring out how to balance our budget once again (unlike Congress), or working to clean-up our rivers? Are you willing to arrest and prosecute over 20,000 District government employees for simply showing up to work like we do everyday? If so, you will help highlight to the entire nation that we live under an unjust and indefensible system.
I work for the people of the District of Columbia not Congress. I want to respect, honor, and abide by the voters of the District’s democratic will. I am ready to go to work like I do every day if the Mayor and Council pass a budget without congressional consent. I fully realize that violating the law has repercussions and I take them seriously. I am willing to violate an unjust law passed by those not elected to represent me but I will not violate my conscience.
P.S. I’d be happy to meet in person anytime to discuss this or our push for statehood and I’d love to help you host a Town Hall in D.C. about statehood if you’re interested in hearing what the people think.