Washington, D.C.

Government

The present system of government (in operation since 1975) provides for an elected mayor and city council but reserves for Congress veto power over the budget and legislation and direct control over an enclave containing most of the federal buildings and monuments.

The Twenty-third Amendment (1961) to the Constitution gave inhabitants the right to vote in presidential elections; the District of Columbia was accorded three electoral votes, the minimum number. In 1970 legislation authorized election of a nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives. There have been several unsuccessful attempts by the District of Columbia to gain statehood and achieve full representation in Congress.

With the city facing insolvency in 1995, Congress created a financial control board with a mandate to supervise municipal finances. Granted virtual authority over the city, the board concentrated on reducing the municipal workforce, paring services and programs, stimulating the economy, retaining a middle-class presence, and transferring prison and other costly operations to the federal government; it continued its oversight until the District had four successive balanced budgets (2001).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography