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Lawmakers Debate DC License Plates

June 27, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two key Capitol Hill lawmakers said Tuesday the District of Columbia should choose a slogan other than ``Taxation Without Representation″ for its license plates. But both said they would not block the district’s plans to make the change.

Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., chairman of the House Appropriations District of Columbia subcommittee, said he has ``no intent to interfere″ with the plan, which the D.C. Council approved this week.

Supporters, including Mayor Anthony A. Williams, see the plates as a protest against the district’s lack of a voting representative in Congress.

But Istook warned of the potential for a ``negative backlash″ outside the district.

``Many will read the slogan as an insulting boast that the nation’s capital benefits from taxes at the expense of the rest of the country,″ he said.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Istook’s counterpart who chairs the Senate Appropriations District of Columbia Subcommittee, said she was sorry the Council ``chose a negative image″ for its plates.

``I think they should pride themselves on being the nation’s capital city and have a positive slogan that would be more welcoming,″ Hutchison said. However, she said she has no intention of trying to block the move.

Congress can block any action by the district government by invoking its constitutional authority over the district.

The new plates could be on cars by September. Those include limousines used by President Clinton, which are registered in the district and are flown around the country when he travels.

However, the change would only apply to newly issued plates. A Secret Service spokesman would not say if it would seek new tags to replace the current ones bearing the ``Celebrate and Discover″ slogan.

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