Republicans in Control: A Zero for D.C.


the Republicans will be in total control of the Congress in January. Let me strike the previous sentence.

Expect nothing, zero, nada, bubkes from the GOP. In the past, I’ve criticized the Democratic Party for its lack of ardor for this place. But we do have some real genuine fighters and champions in the party. First and foremost are Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer in the House; in the Senate, Harry Reid and former Sen. Joe Lieberman.

We better get accustomed to the Big Chill when the 114th Congress convenes in January. The new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown neither interest nor affection for residents of the nation’s capital. Speaker John Boehner is equally bad. When I’ve tried to question or even inquire about this subject, he has given me the blank stare and, most often, not even responded.
The new chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the Senate will be Sen. Ron Johnson. This committee has oversight over the District of Columbia. If the name Ron Johnson does not ring a bell, you are not alone. Johnson is a very conservative senator from Wisconsin. In no way should he be viewed as a potential ally or friend.

In the House, ironically, we’ve lost a semi-advocate in Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). He was no Tom Davis, who resigned his seat in November 2008, but Issa was interested and friendly. The Republicans term-limit their chairs. So, Issa will step down as chairman of Committee of Oversight and Government Reform. Republicans attempting to succeed him are uninterested or downright hostile to D.C. — names being floated are Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Jim Jordan of Ohio.

D.C.’s problem with the GOP is, as Sen. Ted Kennedy memorably noted, that “D.C. suffers from the four toos: too liberal, too urban, too Democratic and, finally, too black.” I believe “too Democratic” is the major irritant. Seventy-six percent of registered voters are Dems. The Republican Party sees no benefit in helping us in any way.

There is one Republican who has publicly said that the Republican Party brand “sucks.” That is Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. He advocates reaching out to new groups, especially minorities. This guy has presidential ambitions. Maybe he will put D.C. on his agenda, but don’t hold your breath.

What makes this predicament even more depressing is our local political establishment. Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser has shown no passion for Capitol Hill relationships. District Council Chair Phil Mendelson is invisible and ineffective. Worst of all is our elected representative Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who one former D.C. elected politician says protects only the “federal interest,” not our interest.

Mark Plotkin is a political analyst and contributor to the BBC on American politics.

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