Earlier this week, a Republican-dominated House committee in its “infinite wisdom” decided to block a law that would make assisted suicide legal in the District, throwing down the gauntlet and reopening wounds that still have not healed.
And while one can only point to a handful of times when Congress has made use of its constitutional power to outgun District politicians in a concerted effort to overturn a city law, it serves as yet another example of Congress sticking its nose without warrant in the District’s business.
And we think it “stinks,” for lack of a better word.
The District’s history of home rule is rather brief — a mere four decades long. Since then, the possibility has always existed that Congress might interfere with decisions made by D.C. voters and enacted by our elected officials, because “greater minds” concluded that we were unable to intelligently direct our own destiny.
Now that the GOP has taken control of both Congress and the White House, they can effectively block any and all rulings of our mostly-Democratic city and face limited opposition. But D.C. residents are not remaining silent nor are they willing to be led like “lambs to the slaughter.”
One recent example of standing our ground: a jam-packed “Hands Off D.C.” brainstorming session during which more than 700 elected officials and residents put their heads together at the Atlas Performing Arts Center to discuss strategies that could be employed to keep Congress from meddling in D.C.’s affairs.
We may soon hear refrains from “We Shall Overcome” punctuating the air, but it’s going to take more than a few protests and erstwhile pontificators to keep folks like Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, from keeping their promise to increase their dissecting of the District’s current laws and policies. Chaffetz says he’s targeted D.C.’s law that allows physicians to prescribe fatal doses of medication to terminally ill patients because of his “deep, personal, moral conviction.” He says the Feds should intervene and challenge this controversial moral issue that “will create a marketplace for death.”
Surely Congress has more than enough to handle without adding locally-based issues to their plate. Further, we don’t need them to become consumed with District affairs or to challenge our decisions with which they disagree.
It’s time that D.C. be given a vote in Congress and be respected, if not as a sovereign state, then at least as an independently-controlled city. Isn’t that why we pay such a hefty amount in taxes? D.C. has grown up and has a City Council and Mayor who are fully capable of addressing the needs of its citizens.
Congress should butt out!