D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton announced Friday that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will mark up her District of Columbia Home Rule Expansion Act, landmark legislation since the first Home Rule Act passed in 1973.
Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has plenary authority over the District and other U.S. territories. Congress has already used that authority to give the territories the self-governing rights this bill would give the District.
Norton’s legislation would give the District the same authority states and territories have over certain local governmental functions.
Specifically, the bill would allow the District the exclusive authority to prosecute District crimes, be able to grant clemency for criminal activity in the city through the mayor and not the president and eliminate the congressional review period for legislation passed by the D.C. Council and signed by the mayor.
In the District, the U.S. attorney, who prosecutes crimes by D.C. adults and some juveniles, is appointed by the president and approved by the Senate while the elected attorney general handles juvenile offenses and a few adult transgressions.
“D.C. should — and will — be a state,” Norton said. “However, until Congress grants D.C. statehood, which is closer than ever, there is no constitutional or policy reason Congress should not expand D.C.’s authority to govern its local affairs.”