The sound and fury of last week's budget debate came down to a dollar figure that some members of Congress could have covered by writing a personal check.
Elective abortions for poor women in the District of Columbia - a central bargaining chip in the deal - have cost the city $62,300 since August, city officials say.
In a national budget that is measured in trillions of dollars, that might not seem like much. But for this city, which raises $5 billion in tax revenue each year but does not have the final say over how to spend it, the compromise - which restores a ban on the use of local taxpayer money for abortions - served as a bitter reminder of its powerlessness.
Tavernise looked to left-wing Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s sole congressional delegate, as its main expert.
....Washington remains a political anomaly, more than a city but not quite a state, collecting federal taxes but having no senators or votes on the House floor.
"The district becomes a sitting duck," Ms. Norton said.
Tavernise also quoted D.C. mayor Vincent Gray and a law student opposing Congress using the state as a guinea pig for "pet social policies" like school vouchers, which Gray and the teachers unions oppose. Tavernise's next paraphrase was hard to swallow:
Republican lawmakers say they tinker mostly because they can. "Because D.C. is primarily financially under Congressional oversight, I think people feel more empowered to specifically have input there more so than other states," said Representative Tim Scott, a freshman from South Carolina who is on the Republican leadership slate in the House. "I don't think there is much more to it than that."Does the G.O.P. really "tinker" with D.C. out of nothing but hostile boredom, or is there a chance that Republicans may actually be promoting what they consider good government policy? It's not as if the local D.C. government has covered itself in glory (they re-elected felon Marion Barry as mayor).
Julia Shaw at National Review Online made the opposite point succinctly : "The Founders wisely crafted a federal district for the seat of government. They made the capital independent from, and therefore not subservient to, the authority of a particular state. If we take the Constitution seriously, the seat of the federal government cannot and should not be located in a state."