MILLER: Rand Paul vs. the District

Imposing constitutional, conservative principles on the nation’s capital

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

A freshman senator single-handedly stopped Democrats from pushing through a bill expanding the District’s authority last week. Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, thought it wasn’t right to further empower the city unless it committed to a respect for life, the right to work and the Second Amendment.

“We can’t tell states what to do, but D.C. is an unusual entity that was set up with the jurisdiction being under Congress,” Dr. Paul explained in an interview with The Washington Times. “So we have every constitutional reason to do it.”

He is a member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which was poised to adopt a bill granting Washington autonomy to make its own spending decisions without waiting for congressional approval. The eye surgeon threw a wrench into what appeared to be an easy vote for the Democratic majority by submitting amendments on what he calls “three important issues to conservatives around the country.”

Dr. Paul’s proposals would hardly raise an eyebrow in a red state, but they freaked out the liberals running Washington. He would codify the prohibition on taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions in the District, eliminating the need for Congress to do this every two years through the appropriations process. He also wanted to ensure residents aren’t forced to join labor unions as a prerequisite for obtaining a job. His other two amendments would grant concealed-weapon carry rights in the capital city and ease the process of buying a firearm.

To avoid forcing committee members to make an unpopular vote, Chairman Joe Lieberman of Connecticut pulled the bill, which is unlikely to return. The District’s nonvoting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said in a statement that the Republican amendments reflected the “phony notion that the District is a colonial-like fiefdom of the Congress, whose local laws it can overturn at will,” which “harkens back to the worst days of American history.”

The freshman Republican thought it would be worthwhile to put politicians on the record. “Votes are important to take because they separate the wheat from the chaff, the good from the bad, and this is a way for having votes that don’t occur up here very often,” Dr. Paul said. While he conceded the pro-life amendment wasn’t likely to pass the committee, “it’s hard to say to the pro-life community that we’re all for it but no one wants to have a vote.”

Last year, D.C. politicians asked House Government Affairs and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, to pull the House version of the budget authority bill in order to block similar abortion language from passing with it.

As a Tea Partyer, Dr. Paul is showing it’s possible to stick by conservative principles after being sent to Washington. “I got a little more attention and flak than anticipated,” he explained of the surprise move. “It shows if you are willing to be active up here, take a stand and be vocal, you can have some influence on what happens.”

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at TheWashington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts