Values are our core beliefs. They represent who we are and motivate everything we do. But in government, values are only the first step in the road map to a policy destination.

What really matters is this: can you survive all the unexpected roadblocks and detours that real life puts in your way, and actually arrive at the policy destination the values pointed you toward?

That’s been the key to Phil’s success as chair: he shares our progressive values, he fights for them, but perhaps most importantly, he’s got the real-world government know-how to make them reality. 

Here are some of our key progressive values, and how Phil has fought to make them a reality.


Paid Leave for Parents, Family, and Self

When legislation was first introduced to establish Universal Paid Leave, Phil personally took responsibility for ensuring the legislation succeeded. At the time, half the Council was wary or opposed, and the Mayor did not support it. Phil took the bill under his wing, brought it into his own committee, and brokered the compromises needed to get it passed. Votes on amendments were close, but Phil used his skill and experience as a legislator, and now it’s law. (D.C. Law 21-264) The District has the only 100% employer-funded universal paid leave program in the country. And, amazingly, this great program is only getting better. Beginning this July, the benefits will expand significantly while the employer tax will be reduced. DC’s landmark program will now provide up to 12 weeks paid leave to any private-sector employee for new parents, sick family members, or self-care medical issues.

Affordable Housing is a Necessity for Everyone

Phil has been a leader pushing multiple affordable housing strategies. Just in the past year he successfully navigated through the Council a ten-year extension of rent control; he rewrote and secured unanimous Council approval of the District’s Comprehensive Plan, making affordable housing the highest priority; he authored legislation to reform the eviction process; he fought successfully to expand access to emergency rental assistance; he substantially increased funding for civil legal services to protect indigent residents from eviction; and he added tens of millions of dollars to the city’s budget for various housing initiatives.

Addressing the Root Causes of Crime

Phil recognizes that more police is not a sole solution for a safer, better community. That’s why he co-introduced the NEAR Act (Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results, D.C. Law 21-125) – which takes a public health approach to reducing violence. When the Mayor refused to implement it, Phil worked with colleagues to put money in the Attorney General’s budget to fund “Cure the Streets” – a violence interrupter program that the Mayor now emulates. Each year Phil adds money to the budget to fund Cure the Streets as well as the Office of Neighborhood Safety Engagement that the NEAR Act created. Both programs are alternatives to traditional policing to reduce violence on our streets.

Police Accountability

Phil was the deciding vote on an amendment to establish the Police Reform Commission (6/9/20; Bill 23-774). In his role as Chairman, he then appointed the 20-member commission. On the basis of their recommendations, he introduced Bill 24-356, the Strengthening Oversight and Accountability of Police Amendment Act of 2021. The bill would strengthen oversight and accountability of the Police – critical for police to gain the community trust that is necessary for them to be effective. This bill is expected to move through the Council this year.

Quality Education Begins with Quality Childcare

Birth-to-three are critical years that qualitatively affect K-12 education. That’s why Phil co-introduced the Birth-to-Three Act (D.C. Law 22-179) and, last year, appointed an Early Childhood Educator Compensation Task Force to recommend adequate wages to ensure quality childcare. Phil has taken the lead to ensure legislative changes to effect the Task Force’s recommendations. As a result, DC’s childcare educators will receive one-time checks this year for thousands of dollars and, going forward, will see better, living wages.

If Our Schools Succeed, the District Succeeds

For the past two years Phil has been focused on pressing the District government to move faster, harder to improve the quality of public education. Through the pressure of public oversight hearings Phil has emphasized the need to reduce teacher & principal turnover, to increase attendance (last year over 38% of students were truant), and to improve the quality of special education. His Addressing Dyslexia and Other Reading Difficulties Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Law 23-191) could improve educational outcomes for as many as 20% of public school students – and for the first time require that the teaching of children how to read must be based on the science of reading.

Promoting Racial Equity

When legislation was introduced to confront racism and promote racial equity (Racial Equity Achieves Results (REACH) Act), Phil referred it to his committee. He strengthened it to ensure it would be effective. He enhanced its provisions, creating a Council Office on Racial Equity, requiring racial equity impact assessments on virtually all proposed legislation, and requiring that the Mayor establish a racial equity office to guide the government. Real results – that’s what Phil fought for and got passed into law (D.C. Law 23-181).

Protecting the Environment

Phil has a long, deep record on the environment. Over the years he has moved numerous measures, but a community favorite is the District’s tree bill (the Urban Forest Preservation Act), which for the first time recognized the value of our urban forest. The bill creates protected categories of mature and very old (“heritage”) trees, and puts in place hefty fines to punish developers who chop down such trees. Phil also authored the first renewable energy portfolio standard for the District. Most recently he authored and moved through the Council a resolution which took WMATA to task for deciding it will take 23 years to convert its bus fleet to electric power. Climate change is with us now. In rewriting the Comprehensive Plan, Phil included strong calls for smart growth and sustainability.

Cherish and Defend Equality

Although it happened thirteen years ago, Phil is proud of his work to establish marriage equality in the District. He managed Bill 18-482 through the Council and was front and center in the strategy to overcome Congressional opposition as well as an attempted voter initiative led by ministers to repeal the law. At the time, only five states recognized same-sex marriage. This was over 5-½ years before the Supreme Court held that all states must recognize same-sex marriages.

Fair Pay for Fair Work

Phil has always fought for the rights of those who work hardest in our communities. He took a regional approach in moving to increase the District’s minimum wage. He worked with his counterparts in both the Montgomery and Prince Georges County Councils to coordinate a 2013 regional increase in the minimum wage. By making this a regional effort, he limited he ability of business interests to play neighboring jurisdictions against each other and torpedo the increase.

Fight for Labor

Phil has always held widespread support from labor unions. Time and again, he has stood with working men and women and taken legislative action to protect them, such as: requiring project labor agreements on all major construction contracts with the District government; protecting parking attendants and hotel and restaurant workers through the Displaced Workers Act; banning non-compete clauses in contracts with broadcasters; requiring license-reciprocity for trained electricians; guaranteeing a minimum work week for building service employees; and requiring labor peace agreements for hotels developed with a District government subsidy.

Ethical Government & Expansive Voting Rights Are the Bedrock of Our Democracy

Having ascended to chairmanship of the Council in the wake of two councilmembers resigning after pleading guilty to felonies, Phil strengthened the Council’s Code of Conduct -- including more frequent disclosure filings and annual ethics training. He also initiated the outside investigation that led to former Councilmember Jack Evans’ resignation.

Phil crafted both the bill and the strategy that expanded Home Rule by requiring that the DC Attorney General is elected – and we’ve seen the benefits such as his lawsuits against slumlords. Phil crafted both the bill and the strategy that expanded Home Rule by giving us budget autonomy; no longer must the District shut down when the Republicans and Democrats reach impasse on Capitol Hill. And Phil worked with the Mayor to adopt a new Statehood constitution to advance the cause for full citizenship.

Citizens of the District also benefit from the aggressive, independent oversight of the D.C. Auditor. Phil is the one who proposed Kathy Patterson for her appointment and reappointment.

Phil shares your progressive values. But just as important, time and again he has demonstrated the skill to shepherd progressive (and sometimes controversial) laws through the Council – a skill that comes from experience.