(WASHINGTON) — The motorcade for President Obama’s Inaugural Parade on Monday will feature a shout-out to Washington, D.C., voting rights advocates.
D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh’s office confirmed to ABC News that Obama plans to equip his limos with license plates reading “Taxation Without Representation,” a reference to D.C.’s lack of a proxy in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“President Obama has lived in the District now for four years, and has seen first-hand how patently unfair it is for working families in D.C. to work hard, raise children and pay taxes, without having a vote in Congress,” White House spokesman Keith Maley said in a statement. “Attaching these plates to the presidential vehicles demonstrates the president’s commitment to the principle of full representation for the people of the District of Columbia and his willingness to fight for voting rights, Home Rule and budget autonomy for the District.”
Both the D.C. Council and voting rights advocacy organization D.C. Vote urged the president in past weeks to use these plates as a visible sign of his support for their cause.
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D.C. Vote submitted a White House petition that amassed more than 3,000 signatures, and the city council met with White House officials to discuss the bid Friday, bringing one of the standard D.C. plates with them.
The city council first asked Obama to use these plates back in 2008, the Washington Post reported, ahead of the president’s first inauguration. Though according to D.C. Vote spokesman James Jones Obama had expressed support for D.C. voting rights in the past, his motorcade displayed Inauguration-themed plates instead that year.
President Clinton used the D.C. plates on his motorcade when D.C. first put them into circulation in 2000, but President George W. Bush cut off that practice.
The original idea for the plates came from an intern at D.C. Vote, according to Jones. Their organization hopes using these plates in the inauguration will raise awareness about the plight of D.C. residents. The District has no representation in Congress and must receive Congressional approval for its budget, a process Jones called “humiliating.”
“Lots of Americans still don’t know about the fact that we don’t have a vote in Congress and that we pay taxes and fight and die in wars,” Jones said. “It’s unjust to have people from all around the country that other people elected making decisions for you.”
Jones called it “a national irony” that Washington, D.C., “is the last place in America that still lives in a state of taxation without representation, that does not have full democracy.”
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said the mayor has been unfaltering in his, “staunch support for statehood and budget autonomy,” and that he will be happy to see Obama using the license plates Monday.
“We support any effort that gets our message out there,” Ribeiro told ABC News.
And the struggle for voting rights for the District does not end come Jan. 22, he said.
“It’s a fight that we’ll keep fighting as long it takes,” Ribeiro.
On Inauguration Day, Gray will have a great view of the motorcade; he will watch the parade from the traditional Viewing Stand across from Freedom Plaza, erected specifically for this event. It cost $342,000 to build, according to Ribeiro.
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