Saturday, May 19, 2012

Because They Can

One of the constitutional anomalies which really annoys me is the status of Washington DC when it comes to representation. Residents of the nation's capital have no senator and only have one representative who has little actual power. For years there have been efforts to change that, but it always falls through because the Republicans want too much to sign off on the deal. As a result, we get scenarios like this playing out on a regular basis.

Rep. Trent Franks’s district in suburban Phoenix is two time zones away from Washington, a fact not lost on D.C. leaders as the Arizona Republican presided Thursday over the latest in a long series of attempts to control social issues in the nation’s capital.

At issue this time was his bill, with 193 co-sponsors, to ban all abortions in the District beyond 20 weeks, except to save the life of the mother.

Adding insult to injury, from the point of view of local officials, was that Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s lone, nonvoting member of Congress — sitting in the front row of a subcommittee hearing room — was not allowed to speak.

Presiding over the hearing, Franks, who frequently cites the U.S. Constitution, said Congress has the authority to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” in the District. He also described late-term abortions as “inhumane” and “torturous,” and he called them “the greatest human rights atrocity in the United States today.”
[Emphasis added]

There are all sorts of things wrong with this picture. First of all, that Del. Holmes was not allowed to speak was a travesty. Yes, the rules mandate that the minority party gets only one speaker in a subcommittee hearing, and a resident of DC who'd had an abortion at 21 weeks testified. Still, representatives are usually allowed to speak on matters concerning their district without running afoul of the rule. Rep. Franks was not having any of that nonsense. The most he was willing to do was to allow Del. Holmes to sit on the dais with the other committee members, but only if she kept her mouth shut.

Second, Rep. Franks and the GOP have taken to micromanaging affairs in DC, especially on social issues, much to the dismay of the Mayor and City Council. It's the troglodytes' way of scoring points with their basest base without any harm being done to their own district.

Norton and other District leaders have clashed repeatedly with Hill Republicans over abortion, particularly over the policy that prevents the city from spending its own money to pay for abortions for low-income women.

Franks’s bill would go further. It would bar all abortions after 20 weeks, regardless of who pays. The bill is based on model legislation prepared by the National Right to Life Committee, versions of which have become law in six states.
[Emphasis added]

And this time around, Franks is going to get away with it, even if the bill goes nowhere in the Senate. He got his soundbites, he got his posturing. All the District and its women got was a thorough dissing.

Just one more reason to vote in November: we need to take back the House and hold the Senate.

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