Local DC laws delayed due to holdup in Congress

As the process to elect a speaker continued to drag on in the House of Representatives on Friday, the delay had an impact on local laws passed by the D.C. Council and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Before bills in the District can officially take effect and become law, they must be reviewed in Congress for 30 days — but that 30-day period cannot begin until a Speaker is in place.

“The role of Congress in reviewing our legislation is integral to the legislative process,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. “When something like this comes up, Congress is not available.”

Mendelson said more than 50 pieces of legislation that were recently passed by the council are currently awaiting congressional review. Those bills will be at a standstill until Republicans are able to get enough votes to elect a House speaker.

If the process were to drag on for a while, Mendelson said lawmakers would need to take matters into their own hands.

“We would have to adopt measures on an emergency basis, but that’s temporary and doesn’t last very long,” Mendelson said. “That’s not a good way to govern.”

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy flipped 15 colleagues to support him in dramatic votes for House speaker on Friday, making extraordinary gains on the fourth day and the 12th and 13th ballots of a grueling standoff.

The changed votes from conservative holdouts, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, put McCarthy closer to seizing the gavel for the new Congress — but not yet able.

After McCarthy won the most votes for the first time on the 12th ballot, a 13th was swiftly launched, this time, just between McCarthy and the Democratic leader, with no nominated Republican challenger to siphon GOP votes away. But six GOP holdouts still cast their ballots for other people, denying him the majority needed.

For now, the chamber is unable swear in members and begin its 2023 to 2024 session.

McCarthy told lawmakers there were no plans to adjourn for the weekend, one Republican said, but it might be difficult to keep them in town.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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