Norton Condemns House Committee Plan to Increase Interference in D.C.’s Local Affairs
Norton to File Amendment to Strike Provision, Markup Tuesday
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) condemned a provision in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s (OGR) draft Authorization and Oversight Plan for the 115th Congress, released today, calling for increased oversight of the District of Columbia’s local affairs, and announced that she would file an amendment to strike the anti-home-rule provision at a committee markup of the plan tomorrow, Tuesday, January 31, 2017, at 10:00 a.m., in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building. The plan states that “the Committee will review District expenditures on local programs to ensure that the expenditures are in line with Congressional mandates and federal law. The Committee will also work to strengthen Congress’s oversight of the District and exercise of its plenary legislative authority granted by the Constitution.” The Committee’s plan for the 114th Congress did not call for increased oversight.
“It is truly remarkable that instead of using the Committee’s time to conduct appropriate oversight on federal matters, including the new administration, Republicans have chosen to abuse the Committee’s authority over the District of Columbia and meddle with our city’s purely local affairs,” Norton said. “There are occasions for oversight committee action on federal matters affecting the District, but this wholesale provision ignores the Home Rule Act, which granted the American citizens living in the District a mayor and Council to have jurisdiction over the city’s local affairs. Unaccountable Members of Congress have no business routinely reviewing D.C.’s expenditures on local programs as if the Committee were the D.C. Council. This committee language is unique for Congress and it goes well beyond the spirit and tradition of the Home Rule Act and this Committee. We recognize that the Committee’s agenda for this Congress is affected by having a Republican administration, on which it seems reluctant to do due diligence. But that is no excuse for instead broadening the Committee’s mandate for make-work interference with the local affairs of the well-run District of Columbia, which had a budget surplus of $221 million last year.”
Republicans have already launched multiple attacks against D.C. home rule in the 115th Congress. OGR announced it would mark up a disapproval resolution to nullify the District’s medical aid-in-dying bill, the Death with Dignity Act, on Thursday, February 2, 2017. Last week, OGR Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and OGR Subcommittee on Government Relations Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser launching an investigation of D.C.’s plan to provide support to immigrants. Last week, the House passed a national anti-choice bill (H.R. 7) that singled out the District by permanently prohibiting the District from spending its local funds that have been approved by Congress on abortion services for low-income women. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate but has not been taken up. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) reintroduced a National Rifle Association-backed bill that would wipe out almost all of D.C.’s local gun safety laws, including its ban on assault weapons, large capacity magazines, and its registration requirements, and prohibit D.C. from passing gun laws in the future.