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The budget deal struck Friday by the White House and Congressional leaders interferes in the affairs of the District of Columbia, and puts its most vulnerable residents at greater risk. We need to send a clear message that we object to this overreach, and we are willing to hold Congress and our President accountable. This pattern of government catering to the rich and exploiting the poor has to be stopped.
As a candidate, Obama challenged us to expect and demand better from our government. Once elected, he repeated that call and asked that we hold him accountable. Today, we are doing just that.
President Obama – “I am my brother’s keeper”
Candidate Obama, on the campaign trail, cited the proven value of needle exchange programs in reducing the transmission of HIV/AIDS. In fact, the Obama White House’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy clearly states needle exchange programs are 1 of 5 scientifically proven approaches that reduce the probability of HIV/AIDS transmission. Despite this body of evidence, President Obama has maintained the Federal Government policy of banning the use of federal money in funding needle exchange programs, directly contradicting a promise he made during the campaign to overturn the ban. Friday night’s budget deal goes further by continuing to ban the District of Columbia from using its own local funds to support needle exchange programs. The District has a staggeringly high rate of HIV/AIDS, which is more than four times the rate of any state. Thirty-three states currently have needle exchange programs, and many of them contribute state funds to support their operations. Under the guise of saving federal tax payer money, Congress and the White House have continued an ideological campaign against America’s most vulnerable. Instead of focusing on the federal budget, they are continuing a decades old culture war that has had debilitating effects on the District of Columbia.
You will notice far less coverage about the Federal Government’s needle exchange intervention than the other two major provisions. The budget deal also bars the District from using local funds to support abortions for low-income women that opt for the procedure, and it reinstates the DC Opportunity Scholarship (school voucher program).
Send President Obama and Congress a message
We cannot allow the District to be used as a faceless bargaining chip in these negotiations without letting our voices be heard. On Monday, DC Vote is organizing residents to make clear their objections to being treated like second-class citizens, and we hope you will join us. We will gather at the Hart Senate Office Building to send the message that we will not be trampled on.
Join us at the DC Vote demonstration
Even if you cannot join us on Monday, you can still share your viewpoint with the President, Congress, and the media. In addition, you can make calls to the White House, Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Congress still has to finalize the details of the agreement before their votes, which are anticipated mid-week. Click here to make your voice heard. The clock is ticking.
Adam L. Barr
Founder, DC for Obama