D.C. rights ad­vo­cates dog Franks

Ariz. con­gress­man urged ‘don’t be a wiener’ on fed­eral con­trol

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

Dozens of pro­test­ers on Thurs­day de­scended on Capi­tol Hill and an Ari­zona con­gress­man’s of­fice out West with a sim­ple mes­sage — “Don’t be a wiener.”

Ad­vo­cates for the Dis­trict’s right to gov­ern its own af­fairs riffed on Rep. Trent Franks’ sur­name to protest a House bill he in­tro­duced in Jan­uary that would ban abortions in the Dis­trict once a fe­tus is 20 weeks post-fer­til­iza­tion.

Demon­stra­tors handed out fliers near House of­fice build­ings and at Mr. Franks’ of­fice in Glen­dale, Ariz., with an al­tered pho­to­graph of the con­gress­man, rein­vent­ing him as a D.c.-lov­ing hot dog wrapped in a bun and topped with chili sauce, onions and grated cheese.

“Con­gress­man Franks should rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity to serve Ari­zo­nans — in­stead, he’s spend­ing time grilling D.C. cit­i­zens who don’t have a vote in Congress,” the flier says.

Ilir Zherka, di­rec­tor of the D.C. Vote group that ad­vo­cates for state­hood and full vot­ing rights in Congress, said their ob­jec­tion to Mr. Franks’ bill — it is sim­i­lar to leg­is­la­tion passed in var­i­ous states

— is not about abor­tion, but the idea of Mr. Franks lever­ag­ing the Dis­trict’s quasi-fed­eral sta­tus to im­pose re­stric­tions on city res­i­dents with­out their in­put. Ed­u­ca­tion is a key way to combat any af­front to home rule in the Dis­trict, he said, “but the other part is shame.”

Mr. Zherka said he has not per­son­ally con­fronted Mr. Franks about the bill.

“I’m not sure what I would say to Franks, ex­cept ‘Don’t be a wiener,’ ” he told re­porters over a sym­bolic lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl, home to the Dis­trict’s most beloved half-smokes and franks.

About 30 peo­ple showed up for a spir­ited protest in Ari­zona, ac­cord­ing to D.C. Vote.

“It was a lively bunch, I was told,” Mr. Zherka said Thurs­day af­ter­noon. “A num­ber of po­lice of­fi­cers were around and watch­ing.”

The ad­vo­cates also pur­chased a half­page ad for the cam­paign in the Phoenix New Times and ads on Google and Face­book in the Ari­zona mar­ket.

Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray and other top D.C. of­fi­cials have pri­or­i­tized D.C. state­hood and “bud­get au­ton­omy,” or the Dis­trict’s abil­ity to spend lo­cal dol­lars freely with­out be­ing tied to fed­eral ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills. They are ask­ing states to ap­prove res­o­lu­tions in sup­port of mak­ing the Dis­trict the 51st state, although their first ef­fort — in New Hamp­shire — failed in the Re­pub­li­can-dom­i­nated leg­is­la­ture.

Rep. Dar­rell Issa, Cal­i­for­nia Re­pub­li­can and chair­man of the House Com­mit­tee on Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form, is work­ing on leg­is­la­tion that will al­low the Dis­trict to spend its own funds with­out wait­ing on Congress. City of­fi­cials re­jected his ini­tial bill, be­cause it con­tained a per­ma­nent ban on pub­licly funded abortions.

Mr. Franks has ob­tained 145 co-spon­sors for his bill, the “Dis­trict of Columbia Pain-ca­pa­ble Un­born Child Pro­tec­tion Act.” Mr. Issa is among them, de­spite his pledge to restart the de­bate on D.C. bud­get au­ton­omy with­out an abor­tion rider.

In re­sponse to the protest, Mr. Franks’ of­fice said the con­gress­man has the con­sti­tu­tional right to ex­e­cute leg­isla­tive au­thor­ity over the Dis­trict.

“If Congress does not pass this law, D.C. could be­come a safe haven for late-term abor­tion­ists across the coun­try, in­clud­ing those who have been stripped of their li­censes for neg­li­gence or ethics vi­o­la­tions in the states,” Mr. Franks said. “Many states have passed this bill al­ready, and I be­lieve that most states will pass it in the near fu­ture, in­clud­ing my state, Ari­zona.”

D.C. Vote en­listed coali­tion mem­bers from the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Women, Planned Par­ent­hood and other or­ga­ni­za­tions to protest out­side Mr. Frank’s of­fice in Ari­zona start­ing around 10:30 a.m. lo­cal time, which is two hours be­hind the East Coast.

The op­por­tu­nity to protest his bill came “at a good time,” he said, re­fer­ring to con­tra­cep­tion and women’s rights is­sues that dom­i­nated po­lit­i­cal dis­course among GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates in re­cent weeks.

“I think that un­der­ly­ing is­sue will be a part of the con­ver­sa­tion,” Mr. Zherka said. “But it’s not what we’re there to talk about.”


Rep. Trent Franks, Ari­zona Re­pub­li­can, in­tro­duced a bill to ban abortions in the Dis­trict af­ter the first 20 weeks, prompt­ing mem­bers of D.C. Vote to hand out protest fliers to peo­ple at the Capi­tol Hill South Metro sta­tion and in Ari­zona. The fliers pic­tured Mr. Franks as a hot dog wrapped in a bun with the mes­sage, “Don’t be a wiener.”

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