- The Washington Times
Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Members of Congress got more than they bargained for when they moved to change a local street name and, in the process, take a symbolic jab at the Chinese government.

Local lawmakers on the D.C. Council on Tuesday took up a resolution calling for support of a federal effort that would rename the street in front of the Chinese embassy for Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist imprisoned in China.

But it didn’t stop there.

While considering the subjects of human rights and street names, council members decided to remind federal lawmakers every time they head to the Capitol that city residents also have a human rights concern — their lack of voting representation in Congress.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson used the occasion to introduce another bill that would rename the streets running along the Capitol complex as “D.C. No Taxation Without Representation Way.”

Mr. Mendelson introduced legislation to “symbolically designate” First Street between Constitution and Independence avenues as such.

“If we’re going to speak of human rights, then we should use that opportunity to remind citizens that the citizens of the District of Columbia do not have the same rights and privileges as do all of the other citizens of the United States of America,” Mr. Mendelson said.

D.C. residents pay federal taxes, but are not represented by a voting member in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Mr. Mendelson’s bill was co-sponsored by all 12 other council members, virtually assuring passage. It also has the support of D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city’s nonvoting congressional representative.

The renaming of the section of International Place in Northwest that runs in front of the Chinese embassy will require approval on Capitol Hill since the street is owned by the U.S. State Department. That effort was spearheaded by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, and supported by a bipartisan congressional contingent from the D.C. area and around the country.

The effort was timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests.

Mr. Wolf noted in a letter to city leaders last month that the move was not unprecedented, pointing out that in the 1980s the street in front of the Soviet embassy in the District was renamed Sakharov Plaza, after anti-Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.