district-of-columbia

New hearing on D.C. statehood, same old partisan lines
Effort to provide D.C. residents with full congressional representation gains steam in House

From left, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Mayor Muriel Bowser veteran Kerwin E. Miller, and Dr. Roger Pilon, attend the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing titled “H.R. 51: Making D.C. the 51st State,” in Rayburn Building on Thursday, September 19, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In the first House hearing on D.C. statehood in nearly 26 years revealed old battle lines over giving the District of Columbia’s 702,000 residents full representation in Congress with House Oversight Committee Democrats applauding statehood as a long-overdue correction of an anomaly and Republicans claiming corruption in D.C. made it unfit for full voting rights, and saying the whole thing was unconstitutional anyway. 

Thursday’s  hearing grappled with HR 51, a bill to would admit the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, into the Union as the country’s 51st state, and provide it one House representative and two senators. D.C. is currently represented by a non-voting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who introduced the bill.

Smithsonian has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance, committee told
Buildings with outstanding repair needs include the Castle and the National Air and Space Museum

Cathy L. Helm, inspector general of the Smithsonian Institute, testifies before the House Administration Committee on Oversight of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Smithsonian Institution has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance needs across the more than 600 facilities it oversees, an issue that concerned lawmakers at Wednesday’s House Administration Committee hearing and one that the recently appointed head of the museum complex pledged to address.

Prominent Smithsonian buildings in need of deferred maintenance — maintenance and repairs that were not performed when they should have been — include the Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the Castle, the Arts and Industries Building and the National Air and Space Museum. The $937 million backlog for fiscal 2017 is an assessment of every building it oversees, according to to Cathy Helm, inspector general for the Smithsonian Institution.

D.C. evokes spirit of 1776 in battle for statehood
‘We’re coming for what is due us,’ mayor proclaims

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser rides a bus with 51 military veterans to a Monday rally on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest ahead of this week’s House Oversight and Reform hearing on a bill that would make the District the 51st state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton evoked the Founding Fathers to plead their case for district statehood while riding in a statehood parade to the Capitol on Monday.

The two D.C. political leaders were joined in front of the John A. Wilson Building, the seat of the District government, by high-spirited U.S. veterans from D.C. waving American flags with 51 stars and chanting “Fif-ty-one! Fif-ty-one!” The delegation then climbed onto a double-decker statehood bus for an 11-block trek that included a stop in front of Trump International Hotel.

Your Hill Horoscope: brought to you by the letter ‘H’ (Street)
What to do in D.C. the week of Sept. 16-23

The H Street Festival, spanning 10 blocks of H Street Northeast, returns on Saturday. (Kate Patterson/Getty Images file photo)

One of D.C.’s favorite all-day block parties, the H Street Festival, returns on Saturday, Sept. 21. This year’s festivities will feature music of different genres, dance, an interactive children’s program, fashion and more. You can start making your merries at noon.

Planning a wedding? If so,“tie up loose ends before you tie the knot.” The Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, located at 415 New Jersey Ave. NW, is hosting a wedding planning party on Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. There will be makeovers, fashion, and our personal favorite: cake and cocktails.

Former Rep. John Sweeney is ‘optimistic’ amid cancer diagnosis
‘I’m a resilient guy and I’m not dying,’ New York Republican says of current battle

New York Rep. John E. Sweeney talks to reporters at a news conference on Capitol Hill in 2001. The former congressman is battling cancer. (Jeff Wolfram/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former New York Rep. John E. Sweeney has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“I’m optimistic,” he told the (Albany) Times Union. “I have faced challenges in the past.”

Amtrak IG details Union Station security deficiencies
Report outlines car driving onto tracks, doors propped open, security guards not checking permits

Union Station has grave security vulnerabilities, according to a report by Amtrak’s inspector general. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Security shortcomings at Amtrak’s second busiest station, Washington Union Station, have allowed an unauthorized car to drive onto the tracks and continue to leave the transportation hub and its patrons at risk, according to a report by Amtrak’s inspector general.

The report found that an entrance to Union Station is vulnerable to trespassers; interior doors are not secure; video surveillance cameras are not operational; and the company’s incident reporting process and radio limitations hamper the Amtrak police force’s response to security incidents at the station that served more than 5 million riders in the 2018 fiscal year.

D.C. statehood hearing rescheduled for September
Hearing on bill introduced by Holmes Norton had been postponed to accommodate Mueller testimony

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Muriel Bowser at a May 30 news conference to announce a hearing would be held on making the District of Columbia, which they represent, a state. Originally set for July, the hearing has been rescheduled for September. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A hearing on a bill to make the District of Columbia the 51st state has been rescheduled for September. 

A bill introduced by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton had been scheduled for July but was postponed to accommodate testimony from former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.  The hearing on Norton’s statehood bill — aptly named H.R. 51 — will be held by the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Sept. 19 at 10 a.m.

Judge weighs New Hampshire work requirements for Medicaid
The requirements were delayed for an additional 120 days due to state outreach problems

Federal district court Judge James E. Boasberg heard oral arguments Tuesday regarding the Trump administration's approval of work requirements in relation to New Hampshire's Medicaid program. Boasberg will decide whether states can enforce 100-hour-a-month requirements. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal district court judge seemed skeptical during oral arguments Tuesday of whether the Trump administration’s approval of work requirements advances the mission of New Hampshire’s Medicaid program. The same judge ruled against two other state work requirements earlier this year.

The New Hampshire requirements, which could have resulted in thousands losing coverage in August, were delayed earlier this month for an additional 120 days due to state outreach problems in educating enrollees about the requirements.

USDA official says agencies can find new staff after they move to Kansas City
Research chief also disputes reports that USDA is burying climate science research

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced new homes for the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A top Agriculture Department research official told a Senate committee that two agencies slated for a contested move out of Washington can recover from an exodus of employees and denied media reports the department has hidden agency documents on climate change.

Scott Hutchins, deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics, said Thursday that many employees eligible to move to the Kansas City metropolitan area with either the Economic Research Service or National Institute of Food and Agriculture have notified USDA that they will stay in Washington. Employees who have agreed to move have until Sept. 30 to make the trek west, where the agencies will operate out of a temporary space until USDA finds a long-term landlord.

Del. Holmes Norton ‘sees good news’ in a poll finding a majority reject D.C. statehood
Gallup found 64 percent of Americans oppose making Washington, D.C., a separate state.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., left, and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser. A new Gallup poll found a majority of Americans do not support D.C. statehood. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton “sees good news” in a new Gallup poll that found a majority of Americans reject D.C. statehood.

The Gallup poll, conducted in June and released Monday, found 64 percent of Americans oppose making Washington a separate state. It was released to coincide with a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Holmes Norton’s statehood bill, which has been postponed to accommodate testimony from Robert S. Mueller III.