- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 17, 2018


The U.S. Constitution, the document that preceded the famous inscription that mentions tired, poor and hungry populations, gives control to Congress of what we now call Washington, D.C.

That simple fact means that every year elected District officials devise a budget, as states do, to determine a spending plan, along with requisite laws.

The District also has to do something the states do not, however. The city must send its proposed budget to Congress for federal approval, where every senator and voting member of the House can have a say regarding their nation’s capital.

Bipartisan sniping and compromises are expected every year. Republicans and conservatives make known their positions on certain issues, such as abortion, law enforcement and education; and liberals and Democrats push back.

It’s like a scene from a Tom and Jerry short, except rarely does the falling anvil mortally wound District Democrats.

The fun and games begin in winter, when the president delivers his fiscal budget and ends near summer, after the District budget makes the rounds.

This year might follow a slightly different timeline if Republicans carry out their constitutional duties, and if Republicans don’t become enraptured with losing the District Senate and House seats.

I’m joking of course. The District has no senators, and the District has no voting House member. Like Puerto Rico and the other territories, the District has a nonvoting delegate, and her name is Eleanor Holmes Norton, and she’s up for re-election, and she’s going to win.

Mrs. Norton, a Democrat, is going to win because no formidable candidate dares run against her. She is, after all, an O.G., and Democrats and Republicans alike respect as much.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Congress, or the White House for that matter, should ignore how the city misspends federal funds.

For example, Mayor Muriel Bowser and members of the D.C. Council are fond of referring to the District as a sanctuary city, increasing education spending and urging Congress to leave its gun laws alone. Which would be well and good if no federal dollars were involved.

But the federal government should get to the bottom of this problem: The city allows students who do not live in the District to attend D.C. public schools for free — and that obviously opens the door to the possibility that federal funds are sent to students’ home states.

Last year brought the grade-fixing scandal.

It’s time for Congress and the White House to step up their oversight of the nation’s capital. For sure, the city can “invest” its local dollars in practically whatever it chooses.

But federal money? No. D.C. residents are tired and hunger for tougher federal oversight, and poor children deserve it.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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