House Votes to Block D.C.’s Non-Citizen Voting and Criminal Code Revisions
On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to disapprove two bills in the District of Columbia aimed at allowing non-citizen voting and major revisions to D.C.'s criminal code, which has not been updated since 1901. Despite the urging of House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, 42 Democrats joined Republicans to reject the bill allowing noncitizen voting and 31 joined Republicans to reject D.C.’s Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022.
The disapproval resolutions are part of an effort to block the nation’s capital from enforcing the measures, which must pass both the House and the Senate and then be signed into law by the President. The resolutions now head to the Senate, where Democrats have just a narrow majority, and President Joe Biden is unlikely to sign them.
The initial action was directed at the D.C. Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act, which permits non-citizen inhabitants to participate in local elections. The D.C. Council approved the measure in October, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed the bill, which the council overrode last month.
The other measure, the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022, marks a major revision of the city’s criminal code, which has not been comprehensively updated since 1901. The new terms abolish most minimum sentences, lessen maximum sentences for violent offenses, and grant greater access to jury trials.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who serves as the chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee that is responsible for the oversight of the District, has deemed the new D.C. criminal code as “a pro-criminal bill.”. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the floor that since the D.C. Council sought to “defund the police” in 2020, “the city government has done nothing but pass laws that have clearly made the city less safe.”
 Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), a nonvoting representative, criticized Republicans for introducing resolutions that seek to overturn D.C. bills, calling them “profoundly undemocratic, paternalistic.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) introduced a joint resolution earlier this year that would prevent the D.C. council’s proposed legislation from going into effect.
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