Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives voted in favor of “H.J.Res. 43: Disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014.” If enacted, the legislation would make using employer-based health insurance for in vitro fertilization or birth control pills a fireable offense in Washington, D.C.
So women can have that kind of insurance, I guess, but if they use it, they can be fired. Mind you, people can be fired for any reason or no reason anyway, but there was a law making an exception of this very thing, which the Republicans voted to overturn.
When I entered the Gallery, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) was imploring her Republican colleagues not to use the federal authority vested in them by people from other states to overturn local laws in Washington, D.C.
I sat down near D.C. voting rights activists who were attending the hearing and began to take notes on a steno pad. A congressional staffer came over and informed me I was not allowed to take notes.
Not allowed to take notes? You can watch Congress in action but you can’t take notes? What kind of stupid rule is that? Stupid and undemocratic, that is.
Though its population is greater than that of either Vermont or Wyoming, Washington, D.C. (whose population is about 50 percent black) has limited presidential voting rights, no vote in Congress, and the inability to raise local revenues or pass local laws without Congressional permission.
For over a decade, for example, the U.S. Congress made it a federal crime for the D.C. government to spend locally-raised tax dollars for HIV prevention programming. Today, the District has one of the highest HIV rates in the nation.
Good job, Congress. Brilliant.