December 8, 2016

District of Columbia: Mayor Meets President-Elect to Discuss Future Relations

Photo Courtesy of Vox

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser met with president-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday [6 December 2016] to discuss potential cooperation in the coming years. Despite Bowser having previously claimed that statehood would be the top issue she would discuss in her first meeting with Trump, she declined to say whether she pressed the president-elect on the matter. Bowser stated that she brought up the fear surrounding the divisive rhetoric that permeated Trump’s campaign and his pledge to shrink the size of federal government, which would have a severe impact on the District’s economy, among other wide ranging topics she claimed were important to Washingtonians. Nevertheless, Bowser reiterated that the meeting was positive and that the president-elect would be a “supporter” of the District. With the overwhelming referendum result in favour of statehood, DC residents fearfully await the president-elect’s agenda regarding the District of Columbia in his upcoming term.

 

Below is an article published by The Washington Post:

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser emerged from a private meeting with Donald Trump on Tuesday [6 December 2016] saying that the president-elect is a “supporter” of the District.

“The one thing I know emphatically that he said is that he is a supporter of the District of Columbia, he’s familiar with the District of Columbia and he wants to be supportive,” Bowser (D) said when asked whether she thought Trump would be a friend to the city.

Some D.C. residents had urged the mayor to be hard-hitting in the meeting. They sent scores of emails to her office Monday [5 December 2016] encouraging her to ask Trump to denounce the dangers of fake news. That is because authorities say a fabricated story about a child sex ring involving Hillary Clinton prompted a North Carolina man to travel to the District on Sunday [4 December 2016] and fire an assault-type rifle in a local pizza shop.

Bowser spent about an hour in the president-elect’s office atop Trump Tower, according to a pool report of the meeting. She emerged smiling to face reporters assembled in the lobby but did not say whether they talked about fabricated news.

“I won’t talk about specific things that the president and I discussed. I will say that we had a wide-ranging conversation about things that are important to Washingtonians,” the mayor said.

Later Tuesday, Bowser told The Washington Post that she did discuss the political rhetoric that permeated the campaign and that Trump “is definitely aware and not supportive of anything that would cause that type of fear.”

“I absolutely expressed the kind of fear and anxiety that people have around the rhetoric that was in the campaign and somewhat after the campaign,” Bowser said. She added that she and Trump talked about how they might work together.

“Especially,” she said, “the opportunity we have in our city to heal around the divisive talk.”

Bowser declined to say whether she pressed the case for D.C. to become the 51st state. Last month, she told The Post that it would be the top issue she would raise with Trump at their first meeting.

On Tuesday [6 December 2016], Bowser said that she mentioned it but that her main concern was Metro and federal contributions and oversight of the beleaguered transit system.

The mayor also said that they discussed education. To the chagrin of many local politicians, the District has the only federally funded private school voucher program, thanks to demands by Republicans in Congress.

On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to expand voucher programs, and his nominee for education secretary, Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos, has led campaigns to enact vouchers in several states.

John Falcicchio, Bowser’s chief of staff, who also attended the meeting, said the mayor and president-elect discussed the federally funded Tuition Assistance Grant program, which provides grants to D.C. students who are college-bound in recognition of the fact that D.C. lacks a public university system like most states. Republicans in Congress have tried to scale back the program.

Bowser said that she spent part of the meeting trying to brief Trump on the complicated relationship the city has with its federal overseers in the White House and Congress.

“Our unique construct, as city, county and state,” Bowser said, “and that we’re no more dependent on the federal government than any state.”

Trump is coming off a campaign in which he pledged to shrink the size of the federal government, perhaps starting with a federal hiring freeze that could negatively affect the District’s economy.

But he has also invested personally in the District’s flourishing downtown.

The Trump Organization invested $42 million to finance his recently opened luxury hotel along Pennsylvania Avenue. His company is also suing the District because it disputes its tax bill on the building. Bowser said that they did not discuss the lawsuit on Tuesday.

Bowser received $2,000 in campaign contributions during her run for mayor from Trump’s children Ivanka and Eric, and $5,000 toward her inaugural bash came from Donald Trump.

She also declined to say whether Ivanka Trump, who joined her for lunch with in D.C. last year, attended the meeting.