Michael Bindner's DC Blog

In this blog, I discuss DC politics and other issues of import to local government. I have posted several essays from my book, Musings from the Christian Left, on blog entreies dated June 2004.

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Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Voting Rights Clears a Hurdle.

The Washington Post reports that today is the day in the House. The Democrats have found a way to keep a gun control vote from happenning and a way to forestall amendments. I am not sure either strategy is good.

Allowing the gun ban to be attached to the legislation effectively moots the case going forward through the appeals process, which will prevent the Roberts Court from gutting the current meaning of the Second Amendment. It is likely that the GOP, upon realizing this, will request that this language be stricken from the bill in conference.

As to the GOP amendments, they should be allowed, as well as a vote on statehood and on allowing other options to grant full citizenship to residents of the District. These items will be debated in the Senate, where debate cannot be cut off. I see no reason for the House to squelch debate and let the Senate have all the fun. Of course, the die is now cast and the bill will likely pass out of the House. The real debate will occur in the other chamber (where DC has no representation). Does anyone else see how a full debate on these matters is better held there?

UPDATE: Both Bills have passed. Let's see what happens in the Senate or in conference. It would have been nice if the conference committee had the benefit of a full and vigrous debate in the House. Too late.

A Radical Proposal for DC Governance Post Voting Rights

This is going to raise howls in the statehood movement, assuming anyone is reading this blog, which I doubt based on the lack of debate it engenders. I will send a copy to DCWatch tomorrow, which will engender some debate.

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

With voting rights closer to passage, giving the Delegate full status, I would propose the following:

Repeal the Home Rule Act and replace it as follows:

Establish a Council-Manager form of government. Limit candidacy for the Council to members of the House and Senate who reside within the District. Allow these individuals to run in four classes: Majority House, Minority House, Majority Senate and Minority Senate. These should be designated using the usual formula for a joint committee of Congress. The actual selection will be made by District of Columbia voters (which leaves staffers out of the voting pool). There should be no primary, so that all voters will be able to select the Republican members, not just the local Republican Party. The election would obviously occur in February or March after the seating the new Congress, with declaration of candidacy required 45 days before the election.

The locally elected Council would also function as the Joint Committee on the District of Columbia and would serve as both the authorizing and approrpriations committee. Include in the rules of each house that the District's budget will be considered under a closed rule in the House with a point of order against any amendments in the Senate requiring sixty votes to suspend it or to amend the rule.

To make sure that this becomes a powerful committee, place jurisdiction over all of the Monuments and the Architect of the Capitol under this committee, as well as the Capitol Police. Also, give the Chair of the Committee the title of Mayor, with appointment power over all boards and commissions.

This proposal would only become law if ratified by District voters. Any amendment to it must also be so ratified. The act should also contain a bill of rights, etc. It should also contain initiative and recall provisions. Not every act would be an Act of Congress. It would pass DC Laws as the city council, not as a congressional committee.

This is, of course, a thought experiment, put out to you for comment. The experiment would only work if someone wanted the job. The size of the committee would be set based on the number of members and Senators actually living within the District. Likely the number of matters handled by the committee would be smaller, especially in contracting. Of course, there would be no bring home the bacon factor. However, if your voters kicked you out and you had a good DC rep, you could always run here, giving the post of DC Representative a bit of competition. What say you all?