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U.S. House of Representatives Interferes with Local Washington, D.C., Affairs (2023: Year in Review)

By: Miriam Edelman

Throughout 2023, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives engaged in repeated acts of interference with local Washington, D.C., affairs. This piece summarizes points I made in previous posts on this blog. In the name of aggressive oversight, House Republicans have blocked D.C. government-passed legislation from becoming law, tried to meddle with the city’s election process, pressed anti-D.C. appropriations provisions, and attempted to effectively end home rule. These actions have reignited calls for D.C. statehood.


The new U.S. House began meddling at the very start of 2023 immediately after Republicans took control. Via new rules for the current Congress, the U.S. House removed D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s floor privileges and stripped U.S. non-voting delegates (including of D.C.’s Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton) their non-binding votes in the Committee of the Whole.


Under Republican leadership, the U.S. House sought to block three D.C. government-passed bills from becoming law and actually succeeded in the case of one of them. Those bills are Local Resident Voting Rights Act of 2021 (B23-0300), the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2021 (B24-0416), and the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-0320). For the first time in more than 30 years, the federal government blocked a bill of the District of Columbia--revised criminal code--from becoming law.


The Republican-led U.S. House attempted to meddle with local D.C. elections through more than 17 bills that sought to overturn D.C.’s election laws. One U.S. House piece of legislation is the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act, part of which would transform how elections occur in Washington, D.C. The ACE Act, which would supposedly make D.C. a model for elections, would prohibit voting by non-citizens, add strong photo voter ID requirements, mandate annual maintenance of voter lists, and limit the mailing of ballots.


House Republicans have attempted to intervene in local D.C. affairs through manipulation of federal appropriations. Through the process of appropriations, the House has attempted to impose its policy preferences on the nation’s capital The House Appropriations fiscal year 2024 spending bill for financial services and general government consists of anti-D.C. restrictions that would overhaul D.C.’s election laws and create funding barriers to implementation of local D.C. policies. The legislation would change D.C.’s gun laws so as to permit individuals licensed by any state to possess and to carry a concealed gun in D.C


House Republicans have intruded via other mechanisms. Republicans have actually attempted to bring an end to home rule. The repeal of home rule would be detrimental to D.C.’s self-governance. Some Members of Congress have demanded that D.C.’s Mayor rename Black Lives Matter Plaza, a symbol of our local autonomy since it was created in 2020.


Multiple U.S. House committees have held hearings regarding the District of Columbia. As of July 12, 2023, one-quarter (three of twelve) of the full committee hearings of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee focused on the nation’s capital. At least two of these hearings have singled out D.C. for criticism on rates of crime that are actually worse in various red-state cities.


As Republicans are continuing to lead the U.S. House in 2024, expect more Congressional interference in local D.C. issues. Expect more anti-D.C. hearings and bills.


We must stay vigilant and join in mobilizing to stop the U.S. House from interfering with local D.C. affairs.


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