Newly empowered House Republicans have decided the District is their favorite new toy.
First, a leading GOP abortion opponent introduced a bill, backed by many of his colleagues, that would prohibit the District from spending even local funds on abortion. Now, according to Outside the Beltway, they “have decided to make what is largely a symbolic attack against the District of Columbia’s law allowing gay marriage.” Rep. Jim Jordan’s legislation “would ban gay marriage in the nation’s capital.”
And Speaker John Boehner will try to force President Barack Obama’s “hand on the issue of school vouchers in Washington, D.C. as a test of the White House’s commitment to bipartisanship,” Politico reports. On Wednesday, Boehner will introduce legislation to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Boehner said, “If the president is sincere about working together on education reform, we should start by saving this successful, bipartisan program that has helped so many underprivileged children get a quality education.”
Of course, it was the Democrats playing around with D.C. when they cancelled the popular voucher program shortly after Obama took office. So maybe for once, the GOP is on the District’s side.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman writes that “in a city that’s considering slashing services and raising taxes to bridge a $600 million budget deficit,” D.C.’s “two top elected officials are cruising around in Lincoln Navigators that cost taxpayers nearly $2,000 a month to lease, each.” Mayor Vincent Gray’s runs taxpayers $1,941 per month, while D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s costs even more, at $1,963.28 per month.
DCist writes that based on the combined $3,904.28 cost, “it would only take three months for the District to spend more on the leases than the 11 percent of the District who live in deep poverty make in a single year,” and easily cover “the median rental cost ($1,300) of an apartment in the District and have plenty left over.”
* The Washington Examiner’s Freeman Klopott expands on his argument that the At-Large D.C. Council special election may already be down to new Councilmember Sekou Biddle and Republican Patrick Mara. “Facing the divided field” of about a dozen Democrats, Mara and the GOP have opportunity to motivate their base. As of August there were 29,728 registered Republicans in the District,” and “the special election turnout is expected to be about 10 percent of registered voters.” That means the winner may need only “between 8,000 and 10,000 votes.”
Klopott sees some hope for Vincent Orange, “but current Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas is backing Biddle and could help cut into Orange’s Ward 5 support.” And while “other Democratic candidates such as Bryan Weaver and Josh Lopez have the opportunity to peck away at votes and make names for themselves,” they may not be able to raise the funds needed “to inspire voters to come out on election day.”
* In his Examiner column, Harry Jaffe says “word is out in the policing community that working conditions for D.C. cops is hellish -- not because the streets are dangerous but because management is destructive. Discipline is harsh, morale is low, opportunities beyond the District abound.” And budget cuts continue to make things worse.
* Aspiring rapper, author, and politician Larry Pretlow is entering the special election for the D.C. State Board of Education vacancy in Ward 8 caused by the death of William Lockridge. The 21-year-old faced off with longtime incumbent Mary Cuthbert in a heated contest for an advisory neighborhood commission seat last year. Pretlow says he will focus on charter school funding, parental involvement in education, and “the Washington Teachers’ Union contract” -- though he doesn’t say where he stands on that last point.
* A Gonzales Research poll shows Gov. Martin O’Malley’s approval rating at 58 percent. Maryland Reporter says “the only other time that more than half of respondents to a Gonzales poll approved of O’Malley’s job in office was a few months after he took office.” The Maryland governor scored 10 points lower just three months ago.
* Frederick state Sen. David Brinkley will submit a bill to the Maryland General Assembly “that would force counties across the state to count the number of illegal immigrants who are enrolled in public schools,” the Gazette reports. He expects the measure “to fail, but he wants to send the federal government a message.”
* Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker will attend tonight’s State of the Union address as the guest of Sen. Ben Cardin.
* In an editorial, the Washington Post says “it’s been just over four years” since George Allen “left the stage, and Virginia voters will be interested in how he’s used the time” as he seeks to regain his Senate seat. Allen has “written a book expanding on his passion for sports as a teachable metaphor for politics; led a think tank that traffics in denying that human activity is causing global warming; and offered his services as a consultant and lobbyist.” The Post says Allen “is no less plausible a candidate than others who have risen from defeat. Virginians will be justified in hoping for a candidacy from Mr. Allen that offers substance and serious policy discussion.”
* ARLnow says Del. Tim Hugo “has proposed several amendments to this year’s state budget bill that are sure to give Arlington officials reason to worry.” He “is threatening to table a bill that would renew Arlington’s half-percent hotel tax surcharge” and also wants to “deny state funding to the Columbia Pike streetcar project, require an audit of Arlington roads maintained with state funds, and possibly cut off millions in state transportation funds to the region.”
* A Columbia school is looking for a new name.
* The Georgetown Metropolitan debunks the myths about why there’s no Georgetown Metro stop.
* Rockville Central says the new courthouse’s “death ray” windows have been put under control… for now.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC