The Washington Post

D.C. officials to meet with Obama aides over proposal for president to use ‘taxation’ plates

President Obama waves from the window of his vehicle as he returns from a workout at Marine Corp Base Hawaii. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press) (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) arranged the private meeting with the White House Intergovernmental Affairs Office, avoiding a potentially high-profile clash with Obama.

On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved an emergency resolution sponsored by Cheh demanding that Obama use the city’s symbolic and illustrious license plate.

Former President Bill Clinton used the plates in the 1990s, but George W. Bush quickly had them removed from presidential limousines when he was sworn in as president in 2001.

To the dismay of District leaders, Obama has rebuffed prior requests to use the plates, despite his public support for District voting rights.

After Tuesday’s council vote, council members talked about marching over to the White House as a group Friday to hand-deliver the resolution.

Cheh has also been working with the Department of Motor Vehicles to try to obtain actual plates that Obama could immediately place on the limousines. She hopes Obama begins using the new plates before the Jan. 21 inaugural parade, when they may be viewed by hundreds of thousands of spectators both in the District and around the world.

If Obama refused, council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) suggested Tuesday that District residents should protest, perhaps by throwing license plates over the White House fence. Evans noted that Obama received 91 percent of the vote in the District.

But Kiara Pesante, a Cheh spokeswoman, said White House officials instead suggested “a productive meeting” where the two sides could discuss the matter.

“They didn’t want a crowd, so they are going for an appointment, which will be low key,” Pesante said.

Cheh and Mendelson will brief reporters at the John A. Wilson Building after the meeting.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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