Today, the House will act to take back Congress’s powers under the Constitution.
Article I, section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to “exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over . . . the Seat of the Government of the United States.” The Founding Fathers designed it this way so that the seat of power would not exceed that of other states. James Madison even advocated for this in The Federalist Papers.
Congress thought it was important to give District residents a say in how their city is run, so in 1973 it passed the DC Home Rule Act. This law gives the DC government local legislative powers, such as the ability to raise local revenues to run the city. However, in keeping with Congress’s authority as the supreme legislative body for the District, the way that that money is spent is still subject to congressional approval.
The current DC government is running fast and loose with the Constitution. In December 2012, the DC Council passed the Local Budget Autonomy Act, which illegally amends the DC Home Rule Act to remove congressional approval from the DC appropriations process.
This is unconstitutional. Congress has ultimate authority over the District, and efforts to undermine this authority are in violation of the Constitution. There are real consequences. The DC government wants to use revenues to fund abortions in the District. House Republicans will not stand for that. There is a lawsuit underway to stop this, but Congress is not going to stand idly by.
Today, the House will pass the Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016, which totally repeals the illegal Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012 and amends the Home Rule Act of 1973 to clarify that DC funds are indeed subject to congressional approval.
The current DC government needs to be reined in. We will not allow Congress and the Constitution to be undermined.