AFGE is urging the Senate to protect the right of DC residents to decide their own local affairs after the House of Representatives Feb. 9 voted to overturn two bills passed by the District’s elected officials.
Last fall, the D.C. Council passed two bills – one overhauling its criminal code by eliminating most mandatory minimum sentences to allow judges sentencing discretion, among other things, the other allowing residents to vote in local elections regardless of their citizenship status, so they have a say in schools, public safety, and other issues. Other jurisdictions across the country have allowed residents who are noncitizens to vote in local elections.
“Whatever you feel about the substance of these bills, what is at stake is who should decide these local issues,” said AFGE Legislative Director Julie Tippens. “In every other city in America, these kinds of local decisions are up to the local government. Yet, because Washington, DC lacks statehood, Congress has the ability to impose its will and overturn local laws, even when they have the support of the vast majority of D.C. residents. Congress should not interfere with local decisions and usurp the fundamental rights of DC residents.”
Many AFGE members and 700,000 other Americans live in Washington D.C., a larger population than that of two other states. The latest congressional interference with local affairs is another reason why D.C. should become its own state.
“D.C. residents pay federal taxes and serve in the armed forces, but are denied a voice in our government,” Tippens added. “It is time for Congress to remedy this injustice by passing the D.C. Statehood bill, not further perpetuate this injustice by meddling in local affairs. D.C.’s elected leadership should decide what is best for the people of the District of Columbia on municipal issues.”