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Check This: Residents in DC Are Taxed and Ignored

Six hundred thousand American citizens living in Washington DC have no representation in Congress, not a vote in the Senate or the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, Congress has exclusive legislative authority over DC. Among other things, Congress reviews and modifies DC's local budget, and can annul any law it does not agree with it. That's good old-fashioned taxation without representation.

The DC Voting Act, a bipartisan bill, which would have granted DC one voting member in the House, was defeated last September after a minority of Senators, led my Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), were able to maintain a fillibuster.

So, what does anyone have against a DC vote? The White House opposes it because the Constitution says only the states will be represented in the House, and DC is not a state. Opponents believe that DC's congressional delegate, who votes in committee but not with the whole House, is sufficient. There are also political motivations, to find out,

. DC's representation would most likely immediately translate into one more representative for the Democrats, and more if the Senate is included. The DC Voting Act tried to appease this concern, by also giving an extra rep to Utah, a red state set to get an additional seat soon.

Constitutional interpretations notwithstanding, it is troublesome that the federal government has such geographical and legal influence over DC, while citizens are being denied democratic participation. Even the UN Human Rights Committee has called for full representation for DC residents.

Join The Conversation
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
Thank you for bringing attention to this, Liberty! This is absolutely taxation without representation. I was active with the folks at DCVote while I was interning in their town... they have a lot of great ideas for possible solutions. I'm dismayed that these senators, who all live in that city part-time themselves!, can be so callous and dismissive of the need for their citizens to have representation!
onabanana onabanana 9 years
Oh and the Non-profit and sector is huge in DC and 5 renowned Universities (Georgetown, George Washington, American University, Howard University, and Gallaudet University) add a lot to the Washington DC economy.
onabanana onabanana 9 years
The logic behind DC not being a State is based on the fact that DC is where the seat of government is and it was originally argued that no one State should have such influence of the seat of government meaning no State should be able to shut down the federal government. This argument came about when the country was small and the federal government weak. States like VA, and NY had much more wealth and power than the federal government at the time. I don't think this argument still stands. but if it does, let's say DC doesn't get granted Statehood, it's citizens deserve a voting representative in Congress. I am not a fan of those who propose adding more crap to the Constitution especially amendments which contract citizens rights but I think in the spirit of almost every amendment that has been added to the constitution since 1787, adding an amendment which gives DC a citizens a representatives is the right thing to do. I am shocked and disgusted by those who call themselves Americans who are willing to sit by and watch fellow Americans be disenfranchised. They have a voice and deserve a vote. Denying DC residents a representative in congress is like deny DC residents full citizenship. I don't think this is necessarily a race issue but isn't it curious that the majority of DC residents are African American? Why don't people just start requesting a poll tax while their out to disenfranchise people.
Grandpa Grandpa 9 years
I am not sure, and can’t seem to find any significant business or industry within the area encompassed by Washington D.C. It appears that the federal government or subsidiaries thereof comprise the bulk of employment therein. As long as we elect our President using the Electoral College, rather then total popular vote ( which gave us Bush over Gore)small population states will have a disproportionate say over our national election. In order not to exacerbate the problem, and to give Washington D.C some voice through the electoral process I suggested that D.C be absorbed into the State of Maryland. I picked Maryland because of its proximity, and the fact that its population is smaller the Virginia, and would give the residents of D.C. a proportional greater representation then they would have if reabsorbed by VA. There is a second “hurdle” for D.C. residents who are Gov’t. employees, and want to be politically active, it is the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act was amended (thank God) in 1993 making it easier for said employees to participate in the electoral process, beyond merely casting votes. Currently: Permitted/Prohibited Activities for Employees Who May Participate in Partisan Political Activity These federal and D.C. employees may- • be candidates for public office in nonpartisan elections • register and vote as they choose • assist in voter registration drives • express opinions about candidates and issues • contribute money to political organizations • attend political fundraising functions • attend and be active at political rallies and meetings • join and be an active member of a political party or club • sign nominating petitions • campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, municipal ordinances • campaign for or against candidates in partisan elections • make campaign speeches for candidates in partisan elections • distribute campaign literature in partisan elections • hold office in political clubs or parties These federal and D.C. employees may not- • use official authority or influence to interfere with an election • solicit or discourage political activity of anyone with business before their agency • solicit or receive political contributions (may be done in certain limited situations by federal labor or other employee organizations) • be candidates for public office in partisan elections • engage in political activity while: o on duty o in a government office o wearing an official uniform o using a government vehicle • wear partisan political buttons on duty Now these Federal employees are further restricted: Employees of the following agencies (or agency components), or in the following categories, are subject to more extensive restrictions on their political activities than employees in other Departments and agencies: Administrative Law Judges (positions described at 5 U.S.C. ?5372) Central Imagery Office Central Intelligence Agency Contract Appeals Boards (positions described at 5 U.S.C. ?5372a) Criminal Division (Department of Justice) Defense Intelligence Agency Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Elections Commission Merit Systems Protection Board National Security Agency National Security Council Office of Criminal Investigation (Internal Revenue Service) Office of Investigative Programs (Customs Service) Office of Law Enforcement (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) Office of Special Counsel Secret Service Senior Executive Service (career positions described at 5 U.S.C. ? 3132(a)(4) They may not: • be candidates for public office in partisan elections • campaign for or against a candidate or slate of candidates in partisan elections • make campaign speeches • collect contributions or sell tickets to political fund raising functions • distribute campaign material in partisan elections • organize or manage political rallies or meetings • hold office in political clubs or parties • circulate nominating petitions • work to register voters for one party only • wear political buttons at work (One more thing, a correction from my previous post, Foggy Bottom was part of the Commonwealth of Virginia originally not Maryland)
mandy_frost mandy_frost 9 years
Ok, first, ALL states get two Senators. That is how it works. It evens out in the House, which is based on population. That's why, say, Wyoming has but one representative and California has over fifty. Don't worry about population changes. Second, let's look at the statehood arguement. Can we really argue that DC residents don't deserve representation because it isn't a state? Please! These folks toil away, many IN government positions and don't have a right to vote for a Congress that represents their choices and ideas. It is the nation's Capitol! I cannot believe there is an arguement (among anyone, including McConnell) among anyone as to whether or not law-abiding Americans have the right to representation in Congress! Especially Americans who have chosen to serve their country by working for the government! They don't get the right to choose a Member of Congress to represent their ideas? I think that is insane.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Julieulie, I don't think you understood Grandpa's logic at all. Re-read it. He is against small population states at all having the same number of senators as states with large populations like California or New York. But if D.C. became part of Maryland again, then it would be more justified. So maybe you should be sure you understand a persons comment before you suggest they check their facts.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
Grandpa, dare I point out that the District of Columbia has a larger population than Wyoming, and is just shy of the population of Vermont? By your logic, we should take away the senators from Wyoming. Check your facts before trying to make a point.
Grandpa Grandpa 9 years
It is ridiculous to suggest that Washington D.C. become a state. How the heck do you justify a population of 600,000 be entitled to the same number of senators as states like California or New York. The obvious solution would be return Washington D.C. back to Maryland from which it was originally spun off. The reason it was spun off was there was a fear that any state that hosted the capitol city would have an unfair say in the running of the national Gov’t.
jvpdc jvpdc 9 years
DC can apply for statehood if they want a seat in Congress. It's as simple as that. As a former DC resident, I would just say that living in DC is a choice. VA and MD are closeby!!
meumitsuki meumitsuki 9 years
Now that DC shows more respect for 2nd amendment of the constitution, I would consider a petition for statehood. If they want representation, they have to do it according to our laws. DC is the seat of our government, if they can't follow the guidelines it sends a horrible message.
janneth janneth 9 years
I think that improving education in DC is one of the most compelling reasons to correct this situation.
onabanana onabanana 9 years
I live in DC... it's very clear that no-one gives a rats-*ss about the citizens that live here. DC doesn't even controll it's own budget, that goes through the US congress. The public schools are terrible and the city is fairly divided. If you're poor and a minority (mostly Afro-American) you live in the far North West or South East area of town areas that either don'thave convienant metro access or areas where you might get shot. It's often listed as one of the more wealthy areas in the country but that's skews the reality. The Young Professionals that live here are transient so they don't add much the the social or politcal culture of the city, except they pack the snotty bar scene, and the rich that work here, they live in MD or VA. If they do live in DC they live in Georgetown or the Palisades neighborhoods and they send their kids to private school. What's left is a large group of very poor uneducated people who have limited means of accessing a good education. You walk into any store and the majority of the people working there are black and the shoppers are not. It's not OK. To top it all off our congress doesn't see fit to give DC a representative either by Constitutional amendment or otherwise. Why listen to the people, Why give them a voice, that's not what this coutry is about....oh wait a minute!
merryberry merryberry 9 years
I'm so glad you wrote about this. As a once and future resident of D.C., seeing the Voting Rights Act blocked last fall was heart-wrenching. Aside from the taxation issue, D.C. schools are some of the worst in the country, yet we have no say on national education policy. We can fight and die in war, yet have no say when congress votes to send us there. I proudly used D.C.'s Taxation Without Representation license plate (which Bush removed from his presidential limo) when I lived there, but I'm hoping by the time I move back, I won't need to.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
Taxation without Representation sums it up perfectly. I enjoy living in DC for a multitude of reasons, but this is clearly NOT one of them. Frankly, it sucks. The tax rate is significantly higher than the surrounding states, and we don't even get to vote. And before mymellowman jumps down my throat and suggests I move if I'm not happy with it... I'm getting my Ph.D. in DC and I don't own a car, so living within walking distance to campus is a necessity.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
I agree mymellowman that the US should be completely sovereign. I also think that when the UN criticizes the US for something, we shouldn't hesitate to do some self-reflection, instead of being distracted by the same old sovereignty debate. As for Mexico — that's a good point that the federal government impacts the lives of people who don't have a say. But the residents of DC fulfill all the same responsibilities as other citizens. Plus — Congress actually has direct legislative authority, and control over their tax money (local and federal)!
javsmav javsmav 9 years
Oh, and we do want to be a state &/or amend the constitution, but that seems so unlikely, that we are taking baby steps toward that goal.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Well, first and foremost, we're a Constitutional Republic, which means we elect officials to represent us in the federal government. As such, this representation was created using the states as a basis for representation. As we're not a democracy in it's truest form and the resident of DC are not part of a state, they fall in a loop hole not quite covered by the Constitution, that needs to be addressed in a Constitutional manner, not by just giving them delegates because they want it. As for the UN, I have no issues with the UN making its comments. My issue lies with the fact that some people take it that if the UN says something, we're supposed to abide by it. My statement reflects the fact that we are not guided or governed by the UN, but that we are guided and governed by the Constitution.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
"We talk about spreading democracy, but we don't even let the residents of our nations capital have a say in Congress." - Again, the Constitution states that The House and The Senate are comprised of representatives of the States. Again, Washington DC is not a states, so either they need to push to be a state or push to change the Constitution, not whine that they are not included in something that they are not Constitutionally considered a part of. I hear Mexico is also upset that they don't have their two senators and a bunch of members in the House.....
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Whether we address this systematic disenfranchisement by amending the constitution or not, I am outraged that DC residents do not vote for the body that decides how their tax dollars are used. How can we call ourselves a democracy? And I'm happy that international organizations call attention to human rights violations, whether in Africa, our nation's capitol, or anywhere else in the world.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Well, your the one suggesting we bomb the UN, so you only have yourself to be upset with. ;)
javsmav javsmav 9 years
oh yes, Americans don't think they have to answer to anyone. Perhaps the US should bomb the UN for that report! That seems to be the answer to everything. frustrating. When will we realize there are problems with our own country--civil rights violations happen here every day, and we're so worried about policing the world that we don't care about what's happening right here. We talk about spreading democracy, but we don't even let the residents of our nations capital have a say in Congress. Ridiculous!
philleif philleif 9 years
Live Free Or Cry About It. Hippies.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
I did not realized the America had to answer to the UN. If the want representation, then push to become a state. Since when are the people above the Constitution? How about doing something Legally?
Choco-cat Choco-cat 9 years
I am much more concerned about the U.S. territories and commonwealths; Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. None of these have full participation in the democratic process of the United States but are controlled by the U.S. government.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
Additionally, someone needs to remind the UN that we do not answer to them, we answer to our own Constitution.
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