A group of Republicans in the House of Representatives want to repeal legislation that created the Washington, D.C. mayor’s office and council.
Representative Andy Ogles of Tennessee introduced a bill to repeal the DC Home Rule Act, citing increasing crime in the capital.
“In the first 5 days of August, DC saw 13 homicides. The Nation’s capital has been overrun with violent crime, drugs, theft, homelessness, and riots,” Ogles told The Washington Examiner. “The Constitution places the authority and responsibility of DC administration with the Congress — not with a DC Mayor or a DC City Council.”
“Congress needs to reclaim its Constitutional authority and make our Nation’s capital safe again, which is why I’m introducing the Seat of Government Act to repeal the DC Home Rule Act,” said Ogles.
The bill is co-sponsored by Representative Matt Rosendale and Representative Byron Donalds of Florida.
The D.C. Home Rule Act was passed in 1973 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Prior to the bill’s passage, Washington, D.C. was governed by commissioners that were appointed by the president and two District Committees from the House and Senate, respectively. The Home Rule Act allows the capital city to elect a mayor and legislature although the city is largely under Congressional regulation.
“The passage of the bill came against the backdrop of political and social changes brought on by the civil rights movement, with a black D.C. to delegate to Congress using both oratory and sheer political muscle to convince skeptical members of Congress that D.C. residents should be able to govern themselves,” reports WAMU. “But even though the Home Rule Act’s passage was a historic step forward for the city, it also included political compromises that still dog D.C. to this day.”
Some D.C. officials believe the Republican trio advocating for the repeal are motivated by “antipathy toward the District” rather than out of concern for the increased crime in Washington, D.C.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, told The Washington Post he cannot imagine Congress managing the city’s almost $20 billion budget and overseeing its agencies.
“My first reaction is this: The gentleman hasn’t a clue how to run the District of Columbia,” said Mendelson. “And the notion that Congress is ready to go back 50 years, when it wasn’t running the city well then, is fantasy.”
This is not the first time a House Republican has proposed repealing the Home Rule.
In 2022, Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia suggested repealing the law because the city is a federal district, not a state, and therefore should be exclusively under the federal government’s authority.
D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton denounced Clyde’s suggestion, calling the idea “anti-democratic rhetoric.”
“Republicans are scared that D.C. has gotten closer to statehood than ever, and their response is, predictably, to try to take away what democracy the nearly 700,000 D.C. residents, a plurality of whom are African Americans, have,” said Norton in a press release. “I will defeat their efforts, and their efforts will only strengthen our case for statehood.”
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