How can Democrats justify keeping DC closed?

Alright, so everyone knows that D.C. collects its own tax revenue, but without a CR it can’t spend money it has already collected. D.C. has been operating on a rainy day fund, which is supposed to be there for times of crisis and that will soon be exhausted from the shutdown (I’d like to see the Federal government make them whole in that regard, but who knows what will happen.)

Anyway, the GOP controlled House during the shutdown has passed a few “partial” funding bills that fund specific parts of government. Most of them, the Democrat controlled Senate has rejected. I believe they did pass a partial funding bill providing for military pay.

I understand the politics here, and I don’t want to get into a discussion of who is in the right or the wrong about the shutdown. I’ll stipulate that the Democrats want to highlight how bad the shutdown is to make the Republicans look irrational and dangerous, in hopes that it undermines their position and makes them more likely to end the shutdown no strings attached. I’ll stipulate the Republicans, in passing a series of partial funding bills for particular departments are playing a game for their own political ends. If the Democrats went along with it, the Republicans could eventually just fund all the stuff they care about and leave all of the Democratic priority programs unfunded, and the Republicans would not feel much pressure to bring them back.

So I understand, and from a political tactics perspective, agree that to get what they want (shutdown ended) the Democrats would be making an unwise move to pass these partial funding bills.

However, they have already passed one–for military pay. Surprisingly, the House has passed a bill that would allow D.C. to continue being funded, with its own tax revenues. D.C. is one of the most Democratic areas in the entire country, so it’s very hard to argue it is some Republican priority that the city of D.C. be funded.

My question is, how do the Democrats justify not funding D.C.? The arguments against it just sound stupid to me. Barbara Boxer said on the steps of the Capitol that they have to “remain firm, for the people of Maryland, Virginia” and other States who are also “suffering.” But that’s a false equivalency, the citizens of Maryland and Virginia are covered by their State governments, which are still funded and running, and their respective county or municipal governments which are still running. D.C. is unique in that it is a city government, not part of any State, that has no State to help it, and that cannot even use its own tax revenues because of this shut down. That seems manifestly unfair, and I don’t see how the Democrats in the Senate can agree to a partial funding bill that provides for military pay but didn’t fast track the D.C. funding bill through the Senate.

DC has always been screwed as a city.

I think they justify it because they feel (rightfully, most likely) that the blame will fall squarely on the Republicans, and that the short term pain will result in longer term changes wrt the ratio of Republicans to Democrats in the house and senate, and perhaps give the Democrats more flexibility in push through future initiatives. The Newtster doesn’t agree, as this opinion piece on CNN shows, but I’m not seeing how he’s right, and I don’t see a link to the polls he’s supposedly looking at to form this opinion.

The whole government should be open. It’s just that simple.

Except, as the mayor of D.C. has said, D.C. is a city, it isn’t a department of the Federal government. The congress approved on 9/30 a bill guaranteeing the military would continue to get paid as normal during any shutdown. I’m not saying we should open up a bunch of stuff, but D.C. shouldn’t be held hostage like this.

I don’t see how it undermines the Democrats political position to let DC spend its own tax revenue. Especially since voters in D.C. already vote Democrat, there aren’t even votes to be gained in the “blame game” by making D.C. suffer, it frankly makes no sense.

In fact, many of the Federal agencies that collect fees have been permitted to keep their services open that use fees to operate. I don’t see how DC is any different.

If the House of Representatives really cared about DC, they would have passed the DC budget autonomy bill months ago instead of having it languish.

I don’t agree with the strategy of picking winners and losers in the government shutdown, and I say that as a DC resident. DC should not be a winner in the shutdown just to make sure that Republicans succeed in their demand that thousands of offices and agencies remain closed. Having the EPA enforce clean water and clean air rules across the whole nation is more important than having the city pick up my trash. If House Republicans (and Ms Norton) had their way, my trash would continue to be picked up, but the EPA would remain closed.

Fuck that. Get Uncle Sam back to work on all of his responsibilities.

Did Harry Reid log in to your account? None of those arguments hold water. Letting DC spend its own tax revenues doesn’t really help the Republicans succeed at all.

There are a thousand things that should be funded during the shutdown. Why not authorize all of them by ending the shutdown?

Are you John Boehner?

The Republicans in Congress have shown that they are willing to pick and choose a handful of Federal activities that they would like to see continue, and once those favorite programs are taken care of, it will leave 80% of the government stuck in a shutdown that could last a long, long time.

I’m telling you as a DC resident: I think getting the EPA back to work in all 50 states is more important than having my trash picked up. I think looking out for education programs, from pre-K to post-docs, in all 50 states is more important than risking school closures in DC.

And you know damn well that there’s never going to be a Republican bill specifically for the EPA and the Education Department to get them back to work.

There’s a lot of Constitutional and statutory precedent that says otherwise. Just FTR.

Let’s stop with the name calling, gentlemen. That’s getting close to breaking the rules.

No warning issued.

“Harry Reid”, “John Boehner” shudder At long last, have you no decency?


How can we justify continued military pay, and continuing to let programs like CIS visa applications run (which run because they are funded by their own fees), but we can’t justify letting a city that collects its own tax revenue from its own citizens spend that revenue?. This isn’t a Federal program I’m talking about, this is the municipal government of Washington, D.C.

This is like a Republican bill funding just the EPA, though. Would you support that? I suspect so. But even if not, would you at least concede that a Republican bill funding the EPA would actually be a “win” for the Democrats? Because the Republicans, many of them at least, would be happy to disband the EPA and leave environmental regulations to State-level departments. So if the Republicans for some reason went ahead and approved funding for the EPA, I’d be very surprised if a huge portion of Democrats opposed it.

Funding for D.C. is actually just like that. It doesn’t advance the Republican agenda at all, and doesn’t get all of the other programs up and running that Republicans want.

Further, and most importantly it is fundamentally different from attempts to open up other government agencies and departments. Namely because of what the Mayor of Washington said–D.C. is not a Federal department. It’s a city that is under the purview of the Congress, but it has its own government and its own tax base. I’m not talking about sending Federal tax dollars to a narrow range of programs. I’m talking about letting local tax dollars be spent where they were going to be spent in any case.

Your point, and Harry Reid’s point, again makes absolutely no sense. You’re not even making a point, you’re actually ignoring the question.

My question was, “Why shouldn’t the Democratic controlled Senate approve the House passed resolution to restore D.C.'s ability to spend its collected tax revenues?” Your response is “We need to fund the whole government.”

Either respond to the actual question, or I don’t really see any reason to discuss the issue with you.

It’s not that your question hasn’t been answered. It’s that you disagree with the answer.

The answer is that allowing piecemeal reopening, whether it is DC or the EPA, makes reopening the entire government less likely to happen quickly. It’s just that simple.

The reason they passed the pay for troops is political. They didn’t think they could say no for political reasons. They do think they can say no to virtually every other piecemeal effort, because most people understand the logic.

It doesn’t matter that DC has its own tax base and is a separately-administered political unit, because that has nothing to do with the goals of the no-piecemeal-opening strategy.

I guess to me the truth is Democrats can’t explain it, and so they won’t. I understand the logic of not letting the Republicans pick and choose what Federal agencies they are going to bring back online. That path would be a political tactical mistake.

However, keeping D.C. shut down puts exactly zero pressure on the Republicans. I don’t believe D.C.'s electoral vote has ever in the history of it having one, gone to a Republican Presidential candidate. Don’t Democrats tend to win there 80/20?

The Republicans feel zero pressure from the city of D.C. being close because almost no one else in the country cares at all that D.C. is closed other than people that live in D.C. The people that live in D.C. do not, and never will, vote for Republicans. So the argument that somehow letting D.C. spend its own tax revenues would somehow be taking pressure off of the Republicans simply does not make sense.

I think instead the reality is the GOP looked at the D.C. situation and said “we want to shut the Federal government down until the President meets our demands, but it doesn’t make sense to shut one single city down just because of a quirk in system of government that has created this extra-state capital district that is for all intents and purposes just a normal city that unfortunately is overseen by the Federal congress, so lets let them spend their money. It has nothing to do with the Federal appropriations, budget, or debt ceiling process because we’re just talking about tax revenues collected by D.C. itself.” In response the Democrats drone on about the EPA, and citizens in other States. Arguments that do not hold water, because like I said, if the Republicans were offering to fund a specific Federal agency I could see the reason why you would not want to bend, even if you really want that agency running.

But this is not a single Federal agency, nor is it the beginning of a “slippery slope”, because D.C. is unique. What are we worried comes next, letting the other city that exists outside of any state’s boundaries and is subject to oversight from Congress be allowed to spend its tax revenues too? Oh wait, there is no other such city.

Your view of political power as being limited to people voting in elections is far, far too narrow.

I’ve explained, that’s a non-answer. The city of D.C. is not actually a department of the Federal government.

Why? As I explained, the city of D.C. being closed puts 0.00% pressure on the Republicans. All indicators thus are, the GOP is just doing it because they recognize it should be outside of the budget debate because it runs on its own money.

So they’re screwing D.C. residents (who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats) simply because they can? Even though D.C. is not a Federal agency, and even though there is no logic by which letting D.C. spend its own tax revenues would be likely to prolong the shutdown?

Then take back military pay if you really disagree with piecemeal-opening. And oh yeah, D.C. isn’t actually part of the Federal government. Its government is overseen by Congress, and it has been bailed out by the Federal government in the past. But it’s a city, with taxation of its own and revenue of its own and a government of its own.

Even more fundamental: The CIS is allowed to continue processing immigration forms because those forms have expensive filing fees associated with them. Those fees fund the processing of the forms, since the process is fee based, it is not dependent on the budget to operate, and thus it is allowed to continue operating. Why should the CIS be allowed to continue using its fee revenue, but D.C. not be allowed to use its independent revenue stream, that is not at all connected to the Federal budget?

If you believe D.C. has any political relevance to the GOP, you’d be the first person I know to ever claim that. The GOP doesn’t give a shit about D.C., and that is because they are politically irrelevant in D.C. Like I said, all logical indicators for why the House would pass the CR is that they see that since D.C. is not connected to the larger Federal budget debate it makes no sense to not allow it to spend its own tax revenue.

I think you are missing the point. The thinking here, afaik, is that this would be a potential wedge issue, allowing for a partial solution that would push back (potentially) a full resolution of the problem, which is what the Democrats are obviously trying to avoid while boxing in the Republicans and making it an all or nothing proposition. It’s not that anyone thinks that this is about DC, per se, but that there are broader issues at play here.

Martin: I did explain it. You just don’t like it, so if you want to take your ball and run away from the thread you started, I can’t stop you.

Is a law required for the DC government to operate? Yes.

Do I think that’s stupid? Yep.

Do I acknowledge the law is the law? Yes.

Would I support a stand-alone funding bill for the EPA? No.

Would I support a stand-alone funding bill for my other favorite Federal agencies? No.

Why do I think that the Senate should not pass stand-alone funding bills for particular agencies, office, or whatever? Because there are many other offices, agencies and departments that Republicans seek to eliminate and they will never propose a bill to fund those important functions. It’s hang together, or hang separately.

Why are Republicans proposing to fund DC? I’m not sure, but my best guess right now is that they don’t want to have the embarrassing photo-op of DC residents taking their trash to dump in front of Boehner’s house. The Republican strategy is clearly to continue the shutdown for as long as possible by addressing all the small problems of a government shutdown without taking responsibility for the big picture that they are making the government worse.