- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2014


Although he probably was unaware, President Obama conjured up a neatly wrapped birthday gift for Marion Barry the other day.

Problem is, Congress has to deliver the present.

What’s inside, you ask?

The first ever, praise Jesus for the Democratic president, wonderful little ditty called statuary language that would give the District of Columbia legislative autonomy.

The proposal, part of the president’s fiscal 2015 spending request to Congress, also would eliminate the 30-day congressional review period for bills approved by city lawmakers.

Cup your ears, because the blue-robed choruses are everywhere.

But it’s way too soon to shout.

As I said, Congress has to first grant the president the go-ahead, and like all other matters tangled from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other, freeing D.C., a longtime dream of Mr. Barry’s, just might not be realized in 2014.

Many voters and other residents weren’t around in the 1960s, when Mr. Barry — who turned 78 years young on Thursday — was front and center in the civil rights, Free D.C. and D.C. Statehood movements. But, boy, oh boy, do they understand the dynamics now.

Back then, while many residents and others pushed for full-fledged statehood, Southern Democrats had to be prodded to grant D.C. home rule in the early 1970s — more than a decade after the 87th Congress had passed the 23rd Amendment that gave D.C. a voice in presidential elections and the right to vote for a school board.

Now, here we are with the 113th Congress and denizens of the nation’s capital still remain under the confines of the original U.S. Constitution, which grants Congress considerable leeway.

Agree or disagree, only Congress and a wide berth of American voters can change that course.

The ‘senator’ is trying

Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss is one of the city’s go-to men when it comes to statehood.

Raised on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Mr. Strauss is cut from whole progressive cloth, opposing school vouchers and pro-life views, and staunchly backing handgun control.

Interviewed on WPFW Radio’s D.C. Politics show, host Eugene DeWitt Kinlow and yours truly took on the task on Thursday.

On freeing D.C., Mr. Strauss, a Democrat, said Republicans and Democrats were going to have to “compromise” because the “partisan atmosphere [on Capitol Hill] is a real problem,” and he said that applies to “any issue” and that the partisan politics is “the worst I have ever seen.”

Mr. Strauss wears a deep-blue choir robe, having been seated as a “senator” since 1997.

Now he’s helping to open another road for statehood by not exactly bypassing Congress, but by forming allegiances with the Land of the Left — Hollywood and its illustrious and very moneyed role players.

He and other supporters are sort of “taking the fight off Capitol Hill,” Mr. Strauss said, engaging “Hollywood thought leaders.”

Don’t laugh, dear conservative readers, as this could prove to be a turning point in the fight for D.C. statehood.

In the beginning

U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said at the top of his ongoing probe into the Gray shadow campaign that he would follow the money where ever it leads.

The trail doesn’t stop with suspected moneyman Jeffery E. Thompson.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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