After years of protest and complaints from Washington D.C. political figures, President Barack Obama has agreed to outfit his official presidential vehicles with Washington D.C.’s “Taxation Without Representation” license plates, starting inauguration weekend.
The popular plates, first issued in 2000 in D.C., refer to the fact that Washington residents have to pay federal taxes but have no voting representative in Congress. They do have a delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, but she cannot vote on the House floor.
Obama previously declined to put the “Taxation Without Representation” plates on the White House’s limo fleet. The Washington, D.C. City Council had asked him to do so with no luck in 2008, but it looks like a more recent plea by the council found success.
Past presidents have fallen on different sides of the “Taxation” plate debate. President Bill Clinton did use the plates, but President George W. Bush decline to do so, stating that he wanted to avoid politics on the presidential limo.
Obama, however, appears to have come down firmly on the side of those who wish to see D.C. represented in Congress, as a White House statement revealed.
“President Obama has lived in the District now for four years, and has seen first-hand how patently unfair it is for working families in D.C. to work hard, raise children and pay taxes, without having a vote in Congress. Attaching these plates to the presidential vehicles demonstrates the President’s commitment to the principle of full representation for the people of the District of Columbia and his willingness to fight for voting rights, Home Rule and budget autonomy for the District.”
D.C.’s legal status seems unlikely to change any time soon. Despite the fact that Norton reintroduced a bill that would make D.C. the 51st state, it is unlikely to be passed. Her efforts to get D.C. recognized as a state only came to a vote once, in 1993, when it lost by a 277-153 vote in the House. Given staunch Republican opposition to D.C. statehood, even a vote seems highly improbable this time around.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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