Panelists discuss D.C. sovereignty. (Photo by Lateef Mangum)

D.C. officials are calling on Washingtonians to help them stand up against Congress as the federal government tries to usurp the autonomy of the District.

Council member Elissa Silverman asserted that Congress needs to leave D.C. alone.

“The days since January 20, have been long and taxing on our city, on our country, and, indeed, on ourselves,” Silverman said. “But in this challenging time, I have been uplifted by the activism and engagement of D.C. residents and others across the country and the world.

“The District of Columbia and our residents are particularly vulnerable, and we will need to work together as a community to protect the policies our city values,” she said.

Silverman said in a recent newsletter that Republicans in Congress are working to repeal the Death with Dignity Act passed by the D.C. Council and signed by the mayor, loosen the city’s gun-control laws and restrict the use of local funds for reproductive health services in the District.

“That’s why I joined with our Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton on Capitol Hill last week, along with Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, and other colleagues, to tell Congress to let locally elected officials do the job that our voters asked us to do and to leave us alone,” Silverman said.

D.C.’s status as a sanctuary for immigrants makes the city a target for Congress and the White House, city officials fear.

“The District will remain a sanctuary city despite threats and bullying by Congress, and we will not support any legislation this new administration puts forth that forces residents to live in fear of their safety or well-being,” she said.

Silverman called for residents to attend rallies, community and strategy meetings and call, tweet, email Republican lawmakers with the message of “Hands off DC.”

On Friday, Feb. 10, DC Vote, joined by 27 national, regional and local groups, delivered a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, asking for Congress to respect the local autonomy of Washington and end the attacks on self-determination in governance.

“Representative Chaffetz, Representative Smith and Senator Rubio have all decided that local control and self-governance should matter greatly when it involves their constituents,” said Bo Shuff, director of advocacy for DC Vote. “However, when it comes to the 670,000 people who call the District home, they seek to overturn the decisions we’ve made for ourselves through our elected leadership. It doesn’t make sense.”

Shuff asserted that since the beginning of the 115th Congress, three attacks on D.C. home rule have been introduced by several members of Congress. This follows on the heels of more than 25 efforts introduced under the guise of oversight of the District of Columbia in 2016.

Shuff said they are, in fact, direct attacks on the right to equal representation that should be afforded to every D.C. resident.

“D.C. has passed balanced budgets for more than 20 years and we contribute more in federal taxes than 21 other states,” Shuff said. “Last November, 86 percent of D.C. voters supported the only permanent solution to ending our second-class citizenship: Statehood. However, because we have no vote in Congress, they have decided to run roughshod over our rights. DC Vote has always and will continue to fight back against this oppression and work to move the cause of equality for D.C. forward.”

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Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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