Many “ifs” must occur before the city can be stripped of the limited self-governing authority it currently enjoys: House passage of a possible repeal measure, Senate agreement, and presidential signature. So the odds of some House GOP members achieving their goal of killing Home Rule next year are slim with the White House in Democrat hands until at least 2024.
But that’s no reason for the residents of the district to breathe sighs of relief. A Republican-controlled house means big trouble for the district regardless. Today, under the Home Rule Act, all DC council and mayoral laws are still reviewed by Congress, which retains authority over the city’s budget. Let it sink in.
Although DC’s relationship with Congress fell on notable turmoil (the near-final collapse of the city and Congress’s imposition of a Board of Financial Control come to mind), for most of the Nearly 50 years of Home Rule, DC’s elected leaders have managed to exercise their delegated powers without major congressional interference. We can expect a House of Representatives under the hammer of Republican President Kevin McCarthy (California) drive recklessly on the city. Republican Rep. Michael Cloud (Texas) of the House Oversight Committee made that clear in a comment directed to the right. daily call“Keeping the DC government in check will surely be a Republican priority…when the hammers are in our hands.”
Another Republican committee member, Georgia Rep. Andrew S. Clyde, went even further, telling the caller he was working with colleagues on a bill to repeal the 1973 Home Rule Act. . McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday on whether he, as House GOP leader, would support a repeal effort.
Having served as a senior official on the then U.S. Senate Committee on the District of Columbia when the autonomy legislation was enacted, and having witnessed and expressed his opinion on an autonomous DC while he was perched on the editorial board of the Post for decades, I can say with confidence and great fear that the prospect of today’s Republican Party holding the levers of power over the district is a nightmare.
An immediate result of the Republican takeover would be a further decrease in the DC delegate to the House. Of the. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) (or her successor) would no longer have a vote in the all-important Committee of the Whole. The city’s annual budget appropriations bill would be stolen by Republican extremists and stripped of anything objectionable. Expect carefully crafted, locally funded spending programs to be upended or outright rejected by House owners. City officials can expect summonses to House hearings for haranguing and harassment — all for the benefit and pleasure of voters in congressional districts at home. And worse.
Expressing outrage at the threat of repeal, Norton noted the temerity of House Republicans treating the district like a remote colony. The city, she said, “has a population larger than two states, pays more federal taxes than 21 states, pays more federal taxes per capita than any state, has a larger budget than 12 states, has a larger gross domestic product than 17 states, has a triple-A bond rating, and federal funds constitute a small[er] percentage of its budget than the percentage of total government revenue. Norton shouldn’t even have to resort to this argument. District residents should have the right to run their own affairs, with their own money, without Republican overseers, as local communities do nationwide.
Residents of the district, it must not happen like this, at least not without a fight.
Keeping the House out of Republican hands is as much in the interests of the district as it is of the country as a whole.
The city has a role to play in keeping Congress in safe and healthy hands.
DC residents determined to retain the limited democracy they currently enjoy should be prepared to devote their time, talents and cash to the efforts of Pelosi and the national Democratic organizations designed to secure congressional districts across the country. to representatives who understand and respect DC Home Rule and the clutches of McCarthy and his Republican cronies. The city’s political leaders should take the lead in organizing and managing the city’s campaign to stop the McCarthyites from attacking Home Rule.
It will be as crucial a DC undertaking as deciding the future direction of the city in this year’s primary and general elections. Because if the house is captured by the GOP, DC City Hall will be reduced to a punching bag, as locals watch helplessly.
The threat is so serious. It’s time for voters in the district to start acting on it.