Roll Call recently asked a handful of lawmakers and others from Capitol Hill, including me, what the flag means to them. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, here is my answer:
“Hometown D.C. has always had a vibrant, pulsing musical and cultural life, but the overbearing presence of official Washington often smothered the identity of hometown Washington as much as it trampled our rights as American citizens. Americans knew the nation’s capital, but could not tell the difference between official Washington and hometown D.C.
The press reporters a serious Republican split with only a 50/50 chance that Republicans can get their members to agree on a payroll tax deal. Line that 50/50 Republican split up against their near-unanimous opposition to having wealthy and corporate taxpayers contribute one dime to deficit reduction.
Here is one for the books. The Democrats create a 100% private-sector solution to long-term care, the most costly health care crisis affecting the American people, and the Republican House has just repealed it. The Republican repeal of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act is going to go down as a historic blunder.
If I asked the average American what should be the first vote in the House? For sure, she would say extend payroll tax, unemployment insurance, and the doc fix. What is our first bill? Disapproval of raising the debt ceiling. For what? To remind Americans that Tea Party Republicans brought us the loss of our triple-A rating for the first time in American history?
At a time when D.C. residents want to be focused on voting rights and statehood, home rule, won in 1973 after more than 170 years of autocratic rule by Congress, is on the line.