D.C. officials eye easier time dealing with a President Joe Biden

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They’re not bothering to hide it: D.C. city officials are eagerly anticipating the prospect of a Trump administration transition to the Biden administration, predicting a much easier working relationship with the city’s most famous transient resident in the next four years compared to the previous four.

In a city that overwhelmingly backed presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, a Howard University alumna, top city officials said Monday they expect a much easier working relationship than was the case with the outgoing Republican administration.

“We are all excited to welcome this president who will support D.C. values, including statehood for Washington D.C.,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a Monday briefing ostensibly devoted to updating the news on the city’s coronavirus cases.

She called the result a “fresh start for our country.”

D.C. Council Chairman Philip Mendelson said the election might also be a boost for the city’s coffers — the city often sparred with the Trump White House on the sharing of costs and resources for major city events, such as the racial justice demonstrations this summer.

The mayor and Mr. Mendelson agreed such costs should not fall on local taxpayers, and the city contends that the Trump administration still owes the District $43 million for similar safety expenses incurred earlier this year.

The president also hosted Fourth of July events at the White House which reportedly cost the city at least $1.7 million in policing expenses and wiped out a special security fund.

“There’s been a longstanding practice, understanding, and really I would say commitment by the federal government that they reimburse us for public safety expenses that relate to our being near the nation’s capital,” said Mr. Mendelson.

Mr. Biden has long supported the city’s push for statehood in Congress, although the sharp partisan divide on Capitol Hill after last Tuesday’s vote could stall supporters’ hopes for quick progress.

The proposal is set to be voted on by the Senate for the first time ever after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives earlier this year approved the bill. The Republican-majority Senate is virtually certain to block the idea, but statehood supporters still say a milestone has been passed.

The bill could potentially pass the Senate in 2021 — if Mr. Biden and the Democrats gain control of the chamber and eliminate the legislative filibuster which effectively requires a supermajority vote to pass most legislation. With some races still to be decided, that scenario is considered far-fetched..

Miss Bowser said the District is in the planning phase for Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, which might come with $90 million in public safety-related expenses for the District.

Mr. Mendelson added that he supports Miss Bowser’s recent proposal to shift District budget funds to cover the cost in the meantime. The request has been met with concern from fellow council members who argue the money could be better used to modernize the D.C. Healthcare Alliance, fund cost-of-living adjustments for city government workers, and bolster a program supporting grandparents acting as caregivers.

Miss Bowser said D.C. officials will try to get the Trump administration “to do the right thing before they leave, and certainly make the incoming administration aware of what’s been missing.”

The mayor also mentioned that she has had concerns over a “number of issues” with the Trump administration, specifically citing immigration law.

Although the District is commonly referred to as a “sanctuary city” because it limits cooperation with federal agencies enforcing immigration laws, Miss Bowser said she expects policy changes by the incoming administration, benefiting travelers from Muslim countries and the so-called “Dreamers,” who were brought to this country illegally when they were very young.

“We think and we expect the Biden-Harris administration to not only stop those devastating policies, but to work constructively to replace them with humane policies,” she said.

Another item on the city wish list that may get a fresh look from the Biden administration is the fate of the FBI headquarters building downtown. The Trump administration blocked a plan to relocate the antiquated building to the suburbs, arguing instead it should be renovated where it stands.

On top of and policy changes, Mr. Biden already appears more likely participate in more local activities than Mr. Trump did.

Mr. Biden has already been invited to toss the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day next year for the Nationals, a presidential tradition Mr. Trump never took up.

During his presidency, Mr. Trump also reportedly only ate at one restaurant in the District — located inside the hotel his company owns. On the other hand, Mr. Biden has been eating at local restaurants in the nation’s capital for years, and will probably continue to do so.

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