DC Leaders Feel Handcuffed By Obama
Gray was one of several leaders from the District of Columbia who took to the streets to block traffic in an attempt to speak out against congressional maneuvers to pass a new government budget. According to Gray, the District, whose budget and laws are subject to Congressional review, was used as a bargaining chip in negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.
The Associated Press reported:
The district restrictions that were part of the budget deal reached Friday were "completely unacceptable," Gray said.
"We needed to make a statement," Gray said after his release from jail.
The city will likely be unable to spend its own tax dollars on abortions for low-income women. It may also be banned from spending city money on needle exchange programs believed vital to curbing the spread of HIV in the district, where the disease is considered an epidemic. Also back: a school voucher program favored by Republicans.
Though D.C. has enjoyed much more freedom in recent years due to a Democratic majority in both pieces of Congress, the recent Republican takeover of the house has caused restrictions to tighten.
“All we want to do is spend our own money,” Gray said. “Why should women in the District of Columbia be subjected to a set of rules that no other woman is subjected to? ... If we want a school voucher program, we should choose it ourselves."
Now, some think the recent developments in deals to reach a budget compromise regarding restrictions on spending in the District of Columbia has set a dangerous precedent between city and Congressional leaders.
Washington Post reported:
The arrests are largely symbolic and aren’t likely to cause Obama and Boehner to reconsider their deal, but the point seemed to be less about them and more about us. Residents of Washington have heard big talk on voting rights for years, and for any number of reasons the movement in support of it has been stuck in neutral -- if not rolled backward -- during the same time. Many residents and advocates needed something to remind them that a fire remained, and yesterday’s actions were it.
If the last week of events proved anything, it’s that many residents are deeply offended by the low regard in which the District’s local affairs are held by the federal government. Even though the city’s local government would be shuttered by a federal shutdown, Congress did nothing to exempt the District from the possibility, even though D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton repeatedly asked for it. The possible shutdown wasn’t an academic exercise -- basic functions like trash pickup would be suspended, all because Congress couldn’t come to an agreement on a budget or at least have the decency to exempt a city government that had passed its own budget almost a year prior. The sellout over abortion may not have been new -- a ban on the use of lo The cal funds for abortions has been on the books in one form or another since 1988 -- but rather, that after all the screaming and fighting over spending cuts, it all came down to a local program paid for by local funds and that costs less than firing a few Tomahawk missiles into Libya on any given day.
Gray called it “taxation without representation” shortly before getting arrested. Gray was bailed out Tuesday nearly seven hours later after his daughter paid a $50 fine.