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A Statement for the Lack of Union for and in Washington…

Tonight, the President of the United States gives his first State of the Union to a Democratic Majority Congress. While I could easily rip apart what will likely be a sad attempt for the president to appear by bipartisan, I decided instead to comment on a little piece of State of the Union gossip.

According to the Washington Post, newly elected Mayor Adrian Fenty of the District of Columbia has declined to sit with Laura Bush during the SotU. I cannot blame him I have never been a fan of Laura Bush. Ever since her comment on being a “desperate housewife,” however playful and this carton by the Oregonian‘s Jack Ohman, I was all done with her. It struck a chord with me, as I can relate to the woman in the picture. She is truly desperate with bills, job loss, and many other forces beyond her control.

Certainly, Fenty is not declining to sit with the First Lady over a nearly two-year old cartoon. Officially, politics have nothing to do with it. Well, make that party politics. Fenty, who made this an issue in his campaign for mayor, chose sitting as a guest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the President’s ambivalent to skeptical position on the issue of the District’s voting rights in Congress.

As many do not know, or perhaps care, Washington, DC our nation’s capital, has no voting representation in Congress. Despite having a population that exceeds Wyoming by more than 50,000, the city only has its voice heard during Presidential Elections. Eleanor Norton Holmes, Washington’s delegate to Congress, can only vote on committees, very much like the Resident Commissioners from Puerto Rico and elsewhere. However, unlike Puerto Rico, DC is subject to all federal taxes. Giving them a block of votes in the Electoral College was likely just a nod to this fact.

Before Congress is a bill that would grant Washington the right to vote without the messy and thus far disastrous attempts through an amendment process. The bill would permanently up the number of Reps in the House to 437, which is good because the number set EIGHTY years ago is grossly out of date. Utah, which felt cheated during reapportionment last time, would get one seat and the District would get the other. Granting the district voting power in the Senate, which the GOP would not support since the Senators would almost certainly and always be Democrats, would likely need a Constitutional Amendment.

The alternative is to grant the district statehood. Aside from raising the ire of Rhode Island for losing the “smallest state” distinction, this creates a problem. If a state, the government capacity to exercise control over the nation’s capital is curtailed. Washington should remain, to some extent under the control of the Federal Government. The government needs to retain the flexibility to exercise control over the land where embassies and federal agencies sit, while exercising discretion over vetoing issues that have nothing to do with federal government.

Eventually and ideally, an amendment may be passed; it would retain its special distinction as a District and a city within the United States, which more than any other belongs to all Americans. However, it would also provide the same voting powers in the Senate and House like any other state in the Union possesses.

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