GOP bill would eliminate DC Home Rule, giving Congress operational power

House Republicans, citing D.C.’s rising crime problem, have resurrected a proposal to have Congress take over District government operations by eliminating D.C. Home Rule.

The legislation is sponsored by Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles (R) and would take away District powers that are included in the D.C. Home Rule Act of 1973, which gives D.C. residents the ability to govern their local affairs.

The bill does not spell out exactly how Congress would take over the powers that now reside with Mayor Muriel Bowser and the 13 members of the D.C. Council.

Ogles said this week that D.C. is “running rampant with crime.”

The murder rate is up and the city is dealing with a surge in carjackings, which now number more than 600 this year — close to double the number there had been at the same point in 2022.

Bowser has acknowledged the city’s need to get a grip on its crime problem. But she’s told Congress that it should be a matter for D.C. to address — not lawmakers from across the country.

Bowser has also defended her management of city finances.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a staunch defender of Home Rule, pushed back on Ogles’ comments with a statement Tuesday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“700,000 DC residents have the right to elect their own representatives, the same as all tax-paying Americans,” she said. “Repealing the Home Rule Act would be as undemocratic as abolishing Nashville’s [government], a city he represents.”

The bill proposed by Ogles is unlikely to move forward, since it would face strong opposition in the Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate — but it’s another sign that House Republicans are keeping a close eye on D.C.’s government and how it is addressing public safety.

The House Oversight Committee has held high-profile hearings this year on D.C.

Congress also voted earlier this year to reject a new criminal code that had been approved by the D.C. Council, which would have lightened penalties for some crimes.

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Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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