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Congress Continues to Interfere with the Nation’s Capital Through New Anti-D.C. Bills

By: Miriam Edelman

To no surprise, the U.S. House of Representatives continues meddling with local D.C. affairs, introducing more anti-D.C. pieces of legislation regarding rent, crime, and vehicles. It tries to limit D.C. Council’s powers and attempts to overturn a recent D.C. regulation. Some of these bills show how extreme the House has become. Upcoming blog pieces will discuss Congressional action on some of these bills.


H.R. 5755

On September 23, 2023, Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI) introduced “H.R.5755 - To repeal the Local Rent Supplement Program Eligibility Temporary Amendment Act of 2023” bill. The Local Rent Supplement Program Eligibility Temporary Amendment Act of 2023 (D.C. Law 25-57), amends

on a temporary basis, the District of Columbia Housing Authority Act of 1999 to allow applicants for local rent supplement vouchers to self-certify eligibility factors and to prohibit the District of Columbia Housing Authority from inquiring into an applicant's immigration status, prior criminal arrests or convictions, or pending criminal matters.”

This law was effective on September 15, 2023. H.R. 5755 has zero cosponsors.


Congress’ concern with D.C.’s temporary legislation is extreme micromanagement. Temporary bills, which undergo a second D.C. Council reading, review by the Mayor, and Congressional review, expire after just 225 days.


H.R. 5798

On September 28, 2023, Representative Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) introduced H.R.5798 - Protecting Our Nation’s Capital Emergency Act of 2023. This bill, which has nine Republican and three Democratic co-sponsors, would

restore the right to negotiate matters pertaining to the discipline of law enforcement officers of the District of Columbia through collective bargaining, to restore the statute of limitations for bringing disciplinary cases against members or civilian employees of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, and for other purposes.

 

As the bill would repeal “Subtitle M of title I of the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2022 (D.C. Law 24–345),” Congress is trying to overturn D.C. law through this obtrusive bill.


A seemingly House fact sheet about H.R. 5798 shows that through this bill, Congress tries to revisit at least part of D.C.’s policing bill. President Biden enabled D.C.’s policing bill to become law by vetoing the H.J. Res. 42 resolution (the subject of the “D.C.’s Policing Bill Becomes Law After a Veto by President Joe Biden” and “Update on the District of Columbia’s New Policing Law” pieces of DCNOW’s blog). The first of those two blog pieces reported that Garbarino co-led the House’s effort to prevent D.C.’s policing bill from becoming law. The fact sheet said D.C.’s policing law removed collective bargaining and due process rights of police officers. H.R. 5798 would reverse some of D.C.’s policing law by reinstating “collective bargaining rights as it pertains to discipline for the DC Police Union members” and reinstating “the 90-day timeline for disciplinary action, eliminating open-ended uncertainty or the prolonging of this process as a means of additional punishment.” The fact sheet on H.R. 5798 reports that “These two provisions are regularly cited as the reason officers are leaving MPD and this narrow approach will offer the best opportunity to recruit and retain highly qualified police officers to enforce the laws of Washington, DC.”


H.R. 7530

On March 5, 2024, Representative Byron Donalds (R-FL) introduced H.R.7530 – DC Crimes Act. This bill would

limit youth offender status in the District of Columbia to individuals 18 years of age or younger, to direct the Attorney General of the District of Columbia to establish and operate a publicly accessible website containing updated statistics on juvenile crime in the District of Columbia, to amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to prohibit the Council of the District of Columbia from enacting changes to existing criminal

liability sentences, and for other purposes.

If passed, H.R. 7530 would micromanage the nation’s capital regarding crime. It also damages self-rule by prohibiting the D.C. Council from passing bills related to some criminal sentences.


This bill, which has just four Republican co-sponsors, could set a dangerous precedent. If Congress were successful with this bill, then it could be emboldened to remove even more D.C. Council duties.


At the start of the current Congress in January 2023, Donalds was one of the Republican nominees for Speaker of the House when House Republicans had trouble choosing a Speaker. This problem was reminiscent of Republicans’ struggle to replace then-Speaker John Boehner in 2015. Donalds was one of the two co-sponsors of the H.R. 5195 – Seat of Government Act legislation. DCNOW’s blog piece entitled “Trying to End Home Rule” discussed that legislation, which would severely harm Washington, D.C., if it became law.


A glance at a couple of Donalds’ co-sponsored bills of this Congress indicates Donalds supports measures that could actually increase crime. Those pieces of legislation include:

-          H.R. 5948 - To terminate the Office of Gun Violence Prevention in the Executive Office of the President and prohibit the establishment of any similar successor office, and for other purposes. 

-          H.R. 6734 - Stopping Unconstitutional Background Checks Act – It would “To prohibit the use of Federal funds to finalize, implement, or enforce proposed ATF Rule 2022R–17, entitled “Definition of ‘Engaged in the Business’ as a Dealer in Firearms


H.R. 7526

On March 5, 2024, Representative Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) introduced H.R.7526 - D.C. Consumer Vehicle Choice Protection Act. This bill would “repeal the final rule adopted by the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment relating to ‘Adoption of California Vehicle Emission Standards.’” If that bill becomes law, D.C.’s new cars would no longer be required to be battery or plug-in electric by 2035. If passed, it would chip away at D.C.’s self-governance. This bill has only five Republicans co-sponsors, including Donalds.


Call to Action

We must try to end Congressional interference into local D.C. issues. Congress must stop trying to govern the nation’s capital. It should let D.C. residents govern themselves just as other Americans do. To fully end this excessive meddling, D.C. must become a state at the soonest possible opportunity. Let’s correct this grave injustice before the U.S. turns 250 years old in 2026.

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