D.C. Council members have lashed out at Republicans on Capitol Hill for seeking to meddle in city affairs.

House GOP leaders said Thursday that they will deliberate this week on two disapproval bills targeting the city allowing nonresidents to vote in local elections and its newly passed update of the city criminal code. In response, all 13 council members have written a letter to House leaders criticizing the Republicans’ actions and in support of the efforts of D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton to defeat the bills.

“It’s pretty rich that a House Republican Chaos Conference that cannot govern itself continues to interfere with the local decisions of the residents of the District of Columbia,” said Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-At Large). “This is a page from their tired, racist playbook that they used repeatedly throughout the decades. Speaker McCarthy and his colleagues aren’t fooled by their attempts to distract from the fact that their party has no ideas to actually help people.”

Regarding the change in the criminal code, Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) said the process wasn’t done haphazardly but methodically.

“D.C.’s law was the basis of countless public meetings over 16 years, three council hearings, and two unanimous affirmative votes by a duly-elective legislative body,” Allen said. “It’s a futile exercise, but let’s pretend this coming House vote was on the merits of the law and not cynical politics. The hypocrisy is too much.”

Congress has the power to review legislation passed by the council, according to the Home Rule Act of 1973. It can set aside a law it doesn’t like by a majority vote of the House and U.S. Senate and with the approval of the president.

Allen suggested that if House Republicans wanted to help the District they could enact more stringent firearms legislation or fill the D.C. Superior and Appeals Courts vacancies.  

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said the city’s nonresident voting law reflects that “the District values diversity.”

“We welcome everyone,” the chairman said. “Indeed, every resident should be able to participate in our democracy. It’s unfortunate that congressional Republicans do not value an inclusive democracy in the same way the District does.”

Mendelson said the House GOP should leave the District alone.

“Whether congressional Republicans agree or disagree with laws that have gone through proper local legislative process, they have not been elected by residents of the District of Columbia,” he said. “They should not interfere with Home Rule. Let us continue to govern ourselves, as we’ve done — very well, I might add — for the last 50 years. Congressional leadership should instead focus on giving District residents the same rights and responsibilities as the citizens of the 50 states.”

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