The 51st State? Washington Revisits an Uphill Cause With New Fervor


However the variations transcend administrations. They replicate irritants in a relationship that inextricably binds town’s roughly 710,000 residents — Ms. Bowser’s estimate was barely off — to a federal colossus that’s vastly extra highly effective. The town commonly helps federal officers with help as mundane as constructing the reviewing stands for inaugural parades and as essential as rescuing the Capitol from thugs. Ms. Bowser didn’t reply to a request for an interview.

To make certain, town has reaped big rewards from tourism, the federal authorities’s devotion to town’s parks and tradition, and the throng of companies whose prosperity rests on the federal authorities.

But it surely stays extra an appendage than a companion. The District of Columbia authorities gained substantial authority to manipulate itself in 1973, however Congress can overturn its legal guidelines on a whim (and has executed so). The town can arrest folks suspected in crimes, however not strive them; the federal authorities runs the courts and decides which circumstances come to trial. Capitol Hill decides how a lot federal cash town will get for providers like well being care and, these days, pandemic reduction, and a few officers complain that it’s being shortchanged.

Past the large points, there may be the sand within the gears. One Washington resident collects vintage slot machines as a passion, Mr. Mendelson mentioned, however federal legislation bars putting slot machines within the capital metropolis. Solely an act of Congress can change that, and Congress is just not . District of Columbia officers wish to strictly implement legal guidelines in opposition to hate crimes, he mentioned, however discretion in prosecuting felons is reserved for the U.S. lawyer for the district, a Trump administration appointee.

After which there are the deadbeat-dad arguments over cash: As of October, the District of Columbia authorities claimed it was nonetheless owed $7.2 million for its work in helping the inauguration of Mr. Trump 4 years in the past, in 2017.

“Accumulating has been an issue once in a while,” Mr. Mendelson mentioned. “However I don’t assume we’ve got ever been stiffed for an inauguration.”

The town’s advocates are sure that relations will enhance underneath a Biden administration. For starters, Ms. Norton mentioned, Congress might approve laws she has filed to switch authority over the District of Columbia Nationwide Guard from the federal authorities to the mayor.



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