House of Representatives Passes Measures to Overturn D.C. Council Legislation
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed two measures to overturn bills passed by the D.C. Council, one that allows non-citizens to vote in local elections, and another that revises and modernizes the city’s century-old criminal code. The votes, which largely followed party lines, were 260-162 for the noncitizen voting bill, and 250-173 for the revised criminal code.
The D.C. Council approved the Local Voting Rights Amendment Act in November, giving non-U.S. citizens the right to vote in D.C. local elections. The Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022, which has not been comprehensively updated since 1901, was passed by the Council late last year, and seeks to eliminate most mandatory minimum sentences, decrease maximum penalties for violent crimes, and increase the right to a jury.
The measures, introduced in the House by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, and in the Senate by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), are joint resolutions that would, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, prevent the D.C. council’s proposed legislation from going into effect.
Rep. Comer called the criminal code overhaul a “pro-criminal bill,” while Sen. Cotton called allowing illegal immigrants to vote “an insult to every American.” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) proposed changes to some of the penalties for violent offenses, and wrote a letter to Congress expressing her opposition to their interference in the city’s affairs.
The measures now head to the Senate, where Democrats have just a narrow majority. It is unlikely that President Joe Biden will sign the resolution. In the meantime, D.C. residents are on notice that lawmakers are seeking to undermine their democratic process.
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