The mayor of Washington, D.C. and six of its council members were among the 41 people arrested yesterday outside the Capitol for staging an act of civil disobedience.
Mayor Vincent Gray was protesting the budget deal reached by Democrats and Republicans because he says a few regulations written into the bill infringe upon the capitol city's sovereignty.
The controversial riders were imposed during budget negotiations Friday night and were agreed to by President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). The riders include a provision banning the District from spending its own money to provide abortions to low-income women. The deal also revives and expands a controversial school voucher program that has divided D.C. officials, and that Gray opposes.
Gray said the city should be allowed to spend its local tax dollars as it sees fit, including providing abortion services for low-income women.
"Folks in congress will do things to the District of Columbia that they wouldn't do in their own districts," Gray told CNN. " ... It's an outrageous position. We raise our tax dollars just like other states do, just like other cities do."
Gray, along with the Council Chairman Kwame Brown, were arrested after they sat down in the middle of Constitution Avenue, a busy street on Capitol Hill. According to local news site TBD, Capitol Police bound their hands with plastic ties and took them into custody until they put up bail this morning.
The AP provides a little history:
Washington had enjoyed more freedom in the past four years when both the House and Senate were controlled by Democrats, the party traditionally more friendly to pleas of autonomy from the heavily Democratic city.
When Republicans took control of the House in January, the city readied for changes. Still, city leaders said they are outraged that Washington appears to have been used as a bargaining chip.
"If this isn't taxation without representation, I don't know what is," the mayor said before being arrested.
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