Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Despite Gray Headlines, Mayor Presses D.C.’s Case

Tom Williams/Roll Call
D.C. Mayor Vince Gray said it’s “bogus” for critics to use recent negative press to argue the District doesn’t deserve autonomy, voting rights or statehood.

“Our political philosophies are different. I’m not naive enough to think there’s going to be a lot of political agreement between the mayor and I,” the pro-gun, anti-abortion-rights South Carolina Republican said. “I’m hoping to find middle ground on the appropriateness of Congressional oversight.”

Gray said he appreciated Gowdy’s initiative in coming to meet with him on his turf.

“It’s rare that Congressional Representatives on either side of the aisle come over here,” he said. “I appreciated that.”

Gray met with President Barack Obama in December and several Members of his Cabinet since, soliciting federal help on the H Street Northeast streetcar project, for instance, from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The project, which the mayor described as a “neighborhood-friendly contribution to Capitol Hill and the surrounding area,” should be done by June.

“It’s a clean way of moving people around the city,” he said. “It certainly reduces the carbon footprint, and I think it will have a major impact on encouraging people to shop in their own neighborhoods.”

Back at the Capitol, Senate-side meetings for Gray are being organized this week, Norton said Friday.

But it remains to be seen whether Senate Democrats or the president will go to the mat over D.C. issues — especially when they could just as soon use social riders as a bargaining chip to avert some deep budget cuts Republicans are seeking.

“I think with every president, you love them to get up and say, ‘We support statehood.’ One of the things the president said to me is that he’s a full supporter of the charter of the District of Columbia,” Gray said.

Gray said he hopes Democrats will support him because it’s the right thing to do.

The District, meanwhile, is in a state of limbo, unsure whether it will be shut down with the rest of the federal government when the latest continuing resolution expires in two weeks and just how deep the budget cuts will go.

It is perhaps on this point that Gray best summarizes the psyche of a city whose agenda was so recently on the rise but that has now been relegated to a defensive posture:

“All we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

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