“This notion I harbor any desire to inject my views on the District of Columbia, it was never going to happen,” Gowdy said. “I didn’t run for Congress so I could be mayor of the District of Columbia.”
Issa strongly disagrees with Gray that the District can constitutionally become a state. Instead, Issa sees his role as committee chairman as being akin to the oversight a governor performs over a big city.
“States don’t run cities, but there is some role,” said Issa, adding that his mentor, former representative Tom Davis (R-Va.), considered a District ally, helped shape his view.
Issa said his most immediate challenge is working with Gray to try to detach a permanent abortion rider — which restricts how the city uses about $200,000 in local funds for Planned Parenthood and other family-planning organizations — from budget autonomy legislation on Capitol Hill.
In December, during the Caps game, Issa asked Gray whether the District could find a few wealthy donors to offset the funding loss to Planned Parenthood. After consulting with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Gray rejected Issa’s suggestion “out of principle.”
But Issa said he is determined to approve a budget autonomy bill. He said he is now trying to persuade GOP lawmakers to pass legislation separate from the thorny abortion issue and handle the funding as a separate bill.
“I vote pro-life, no question about it, but I still feel what the city does with the city’s funds should be primarily city decisions,” Issa said.
Gray said he suspected that Issa was not responsible for the abortion measure being attached to the budget bill.
“You know how you can look at someone’s face and tell,” Gray said. “I’ve looked at his face.”
Yet, relationships in the District can at times be good only until the next election. If Democrats retake the House in November, Issa and Gowdy will lose their chairmanships.
At least for now, Gray’s not willing to ponder such change.
“This adage — the Democrats are your friends and the Republicans are not — I don’t think that has a place anymore,” Gray said.