Self-Government for City of Washington

July 10, 1959

Report Outline
Government of the Nation'S Washington
Early Self-Government in Washington
Campaign for Restoration of Self-Rule

Government of the Nation'S Washington

Hopes and Fears in Current Home Rule Drive

Advocates of home rule for the District of Columbia, their hopes buoyed by the recent attainment of self-rule by Alaska and Hawaii, are gathering forces for another and if possible more determined drive to persuade Congress to give back to the people of Washington the right to govern themselves. That right was surrendered 81 years ago for what many permanent residents of the nation's capital have come to regard as a wholly unsatisfactory form of government.

By all usual standards, the home rule supporters are entitled to look forward to early victory. President Eisenhower is in their corner. So is Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (D Texas). Both Republican and Democratic parties are committed by platform pledges to support home rule for Washington. The votes to put the necessary legislation through Congress are said to be in hand on both sides of the Capitol.

Nonetheless, by general consensus, the odds are against success this year. Standing in the way is the tight control over District of Columbia legislation exercised in the House of Representatives by a small but strategically situated team of southern Democrats opposed to home rule for Washington. Home rule bills have cleared the Senate by large majorities four times in the past decade—only to be smothered in the House District Committee. There is every reason to suppose that the Senate will pass the home rule bill ordered reported from committee on June 30 for floor action. Beyond that, the outcome seems to hinge on the quality of the fight made in the House and upon the dexterity of the southern opposition in evading a final showdown.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Washington, DC
Nov. 22, 1996  Governing Washington, D.C.
Jan. 05, 1979  Washington, D.C. Voting Representation
Jul. 10, 1959  Self-Government for City of Washington
The District of Columbia