(RepublicanNews.org) – The District of Columbia’s “home rule” may be put to the test, as both chambers of Congress are unhappy with the city’s proposal to soften penalties for some crimes.
The District of Columbia is unique among American cities. The Constitution gives Congress exclusive power to govern the District. But in 1970, Congress tempered some of its own power through legislation, allowing D.C. to have its own mayor and city council.
But the hands-off approach to D.C. politics is coming to a test, with Republicans in the House and Senate unhappy with local criminal reform proposals.
The D.C. city council wants to require jury trials for misdemeanor cases (not just felony cases) and to soften the penalties for burglary, carjacking, and robbery. In February, the House voted to reject these reforms in the famously crime-riddled capital.
Most House objections to D.C. home rule changes die in the Senate, but that does not appear likely in this case.
If the rejection flies in both the House and Senate, only President Biden could clear the way with a veto.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee is expected to send a bill to the floor next week that would stop the D.C. revisions to local crime laws. The bill is sponsored by Tennessee Republican Bill Hagerty. If his bill leaves the committee, it may be voted on by the full Senate as early as the second week of March.
More than 30 years have passed since Congress overruled any local D.C. laws. In 1990, Congress quashed a D.C. plan to allow construction of a high-rise apartment complex that would have breached the city’s existing limit of 130 feet in height for all buildings except those in a narrow corridor including Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House.
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