Call a Congressman and Ask, “Are You My Rep?”

by April 21, 2011 at 5:35 am 2,414 0

Are You My Rep, DC voting rights

(Image courtesy of Revolution Messaging)

From Matty Rhoades

A local social media firm called has launched a Facebook group called “Are You My Rep?” to encourage Washingtonians to call members of Congress and ask them to support full voting and representation rights for D.C. citizens.

Read Martin Moulton, #39. Moulton was one of 41 D.C. residents arrested during a sit-down demonstration for D.C. voting rights on April 11.

The Facebook group page, the brainchild of Revolution Messaging, allows you to enter your phone number into a form field, generating a call-back. The call connects participants to a random Congressional office, so they may ask if the Representative is willing to support D.C autonomy or voting rights. Only numbers with a 202 area code will get a call back and then be connected to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It’s really ridiculous that Washington, D.C. residents have their own elected government, and yet Congress has the ability to overturn the laws agreed upon by D.C. citizens,” said Courtney Sieloff, senior strategist for Revolution Messaging.

“Like anyone else, I pay both local and federal taxes, but because I choose to live in D.C., there is no member of Congress that I can call when I’m upset about a particular issue. This last budget was just too much. We hope this action calls attention to this unjust discrepancy,” said Sieloff.

I cheated by calling at 11 pm when I knew the chance of the offices being open were slim (though on the Hill you never know). But, I did want to test out the program. On the first call I was connected with the office of Congressman Ron Kind, Democrat from Wisconsin’s 3rd District. The second call took me to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri’s 5th District, and the third connection was with Congressman Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York’s 2nd District.

If you’re new to D.C. and not politically inclined, you may not realize that D.C. has no voting representation in Congress. Our delegate to Congress (currently Eleanor Holmes Norton) can vote in committee, but that’s it. Efforts over the past decade to give our delegate a full vote in the House of Representatives have proven unsuccessful. As for the Senate, forget it: not even a non-voting senator or two for D.C.

Even though D.C.’s 601,000 residents (2010 Census) is more than that of Wyoming (563,000) and almost as many as Vermont (625,000) our only participation at the federal level is that we have three electoral votes for president. That took an amendment to the U.S. Constitution and went into effect with the 1964 presidential election.

Home rule for D.C. only came into effect in 1973 when the Washington got an elected council and mayor. Prior to that time the city was run by federally appointed officials. In 1974 the city held elections for mayor, council and school board.

In addition, D.C. laws and budget issues are vulnerable to Congressional oversight. The D.C. government cannot actually spend our budget dollars without a appropriation bill passed by Congress and signed by the president. For example, if the federal government had shut down two weeks ago, D.C. would not have been able to spend money to pick up the trash — our own tax dollars.


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