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District Of Columbia House Voting Rights Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

District Of Columbia House Voting Rights Act Of 2009


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I know my colleague from New York wishes to speak and I will be very brief. I should not take more than 10 minutes.

We are in a debate about the District of Columbia and the fact that they are taxed and not represented with a vote in the Congress. It is a legitimate debate. I tend to look at the Constitution and, as a matter of fact, as I read the Constitution--and I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I will tell my colleagues that anybody who reads the Constitution can say this is an unconstitutional bill we have in front of us.

I also reject the idea that the District of Columbia does not have representation. All one has to do is look at the facts: $66,000 per resident of the District of Columbia, that is how much money the Federal Government spends per capita in the District of Columbia. That is $5.5 for every dollar they pay in taxes. So the 535 votes in the Congress have well represented them greater than any other group of citizens in the country. But there is a claim--a legitimate claim--that they don't have their own representative and that they are taxed.

This is a simple amendment. What it says is while we work this out, the way to be fair is to eliminate Federal income tax on citizens of the District of Columbia. They don't have a vote. Their tags even say taxation without representation is unfair; no taxation without representation. This solves that. They will have to change all of the auto tags. I don't know what that will cost. But the fact is we will take away Federal income taxes on money earned in the District of Columbia from every citizen of the District of Columbia.

Now, two things happen with that, especially since they have 535 representatives already. Think about what will happen to the District of Columbia in terms of income. Think about what will happen to the District of Columbia in terms of economic progress. Think about what will happen in terms of the value of the ownership of any asset in the District of Columbia. Think of the growth. Think of the modernization that will happen as we make this the center of progress based on the idea that because there is no representation, there should be no Federal taxation. It is a very simple, straightforward amendment. It solves the immediate problem. When we finally do a constitutional amendment with a joint resolution, which we are ultimately going to have to do, what we will have done is given the people of the District of Columbia the benefit of having a tax advantage because they don't have, under their thinking, representation in the Congress.

I am not trying to have a cute vote. If I had my way, I would try to eliminate almost every Federal income tax. As the Senator from New York knows, I try to do that quite often, and try to eliminate a lot of spending. The whole point being, there is a legitimate point to be made by the citizens of the District of Columbia in that they are treated differently than everybody else in this country. My argument is they actually have 535 representatives plus their Delegate, and it has shown to be very effective for them, because no place else in the country gets as much Federal money per capita as the District of Columbia. So if we want to treat the citizens of the District of Columbia fairly--by the way, this excludes all Members of Congress, so if my colleagues are thinking about voting for it for a selfish reason, please don't. If you are thinking about voting for this amendment on the basis of fairness, please consider it.


I wish to take a few more minutes to comment on the Ensign amendment, if I might, and then I will finish. The Ensign amendment isn't about concealed carrying, it is about the right that is guaranteed under the second amendment to be applied to people in the District of Columbia.

James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 46:

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation ..... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.

If you look at the murder rate in the District of Columbia, what happened when the gun ban in 1975 was first instituted, we didn't see it rise that much because we allowed people to keep their guns. When the complete ban took place, we saw a fivefold rise that is still going up--except for the last 2 years--in the murder rate compared to the rest of the cities in this country. There is something to be said for the thinking that a perpetrator of a felony thinks he or she may possibly be harmed significantly. That tends to drive down violent crime--we know that--in the States that have concealed carry, and that, I believe, is 26 or 28 States. It may be even more than that now.

The fact is, this isn't about concealed carry; this is about guaranteeing the
rights of individual citizens in the District of Columbia to represent themselves with a right that every other citizen in this country has. Because Congress didn't act on that right, it took the Heller decision to give them that right. All this does is bring into line the District of Columbia with the rest of the States in the country. I will have taken the amount of time that I should in favor of Senator Schumer. I thank him very much for the consideration of allowing me to go first. I thank the chairman of the committee as well.


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