Latoya Veal 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to a bill that would repeal DC’s budget autonomy. Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“I thank the gentlelady for yielding, and I thank the gentleman from North Carolina for outlining his position. We are a nation of laws. The gentleman has indicated a court has ruled on this issue, an opinion with which he disagrees. And we have a mechanism for overturning or clarifying or changing such a ruling. It is the court system and that case may well reach the Supreme Court.
“But I rise in opposition to this piece of legislation, which in my opinion, is an exercise in hypocrisy. Why do I say that? That can be a harsh word.
“We are witnessing the party that proclaims itself to be the champion of local autonomy and less federal government involvement in local affairs – we hear that all of the time – bring to this Floor legislation that would do exactly the opposite.
“The District of Columbia – over 700,000 American citizens – deserves a form of home rule not characterized by constant and intrusive micromanaging by Congressional Republicans or Democrats.
“Now if I was to ask unanimous consent that we substitute the District of Columbia and perhaps include Milwaukee, Wisconsin – now I’m not going to ask for that – but I’m sure I would get objection to that. Or if I might ask that Salt Lake City be substituted or perhaps even Baltimore, Maryland – my own city in my state – or maybe even Charlotte, North Carolina. Those of us who represent those four cities would stand and say, ‘This is not your role, Congress of the United States.’
“Speaker Ryan just released a statement which he said, and I quote, ‘The current DC government need to be reined in.’ From where? From balanced budgets? From surplus in their budgets? Reined in? They are a model, I would suggest, of fiscal responsibility. Not always, but today. But then again, none of our jurisdictions has always been such a model.
“I would say to the Speaker in response, quite the opposite, the government and the people of the District of Columbia need be allowed to chart their own course, which is what I think most of you say on a regular basis.
“It is a mystery to me – and ought to be a mystery to every American who believes in the premise that people ought to govern themselves – why House Republicans are determined to strip that ability away from the 700,000 Americans who live in our nation’s capital.
“They pay taxes, they pay taxes to their local government and we want to make that decision. I understand what the court has said and that courts may rule that way. But shouldn’t we have the patience to let the court system decide whether or not this referenda of the people of the District of Columbia is adjudged to be appropriate?
“The locally raised revenues from taxes and fees do not originate from the federal government but from hardworking residents of Washington.
“The District of Columbia has proven Congress’s wisdom in enacting the 1973 DC Home Rule Act time and again by managing its affairs in a fiscally responsible, democratic way.
“I would say to my friends, the District of Columbia deserves the same respect that any of our governments deserve. And that, in fact, we demand for them. And I always lament how the District is demeaned.
“When I was the Majority Leader, I made sure that Ms. Norton had a vote on the Floor of this House. And that the Virgin Islands representative had a vote on this House. One of the first things you did when you took the majority was take that away.
“It was not a vote that made a difference. It was a vote that was symbolic. But it gave them the opportunity to have their name, as our equals, as Americans, on that board and express their opinion.
“Let us not take this degree of autonomy away from them. Let us respect these local citizens as you would want your local citizens respected.
“I urge the defeat of this legislation. And if the courts tell us that they could not do this, so be it. Let us let the system work its will.
“And I thank the gentlelady and I thank the gentleman for yielding me some time. And I yield back the balance of my time.”