DC Council fights back, urges Senate not to reject criminal code
WASHINGTON - The Washington, D.C., city council is fighting back against congressional efforts to overturn laws easing criminal penalties and allowing non-citizens to vote.
The 13 members of the capital’s council urged Senate leaders of both parties to not strike down the city’s controversial laws that have drawn the sights of House GOP leadership.
"Today ALL 13 Councilmembers sent a letter to Senate leadership opposing the efforts to disapprove properly adopted DC laws," D.C. council chairman Phil Mendelson wrote Friday on Twitter.
"We ask them to stand up against any attempts to undermine the autonomy of the District and the democratic rights of DC residents! #HandsOffDC," Mendelson continued.
In the letter, the council members wrote that they "oppose the efforts to disapprove" the two controversial city laws.
While D.C. has home rule authority and can pass laws without federal consent, Congress has the authority to strike down D.C. laws it disapproves of.
READ MORE: House votes to repeal update to DC's criminal code
"The District of Columbia has the right to self-govern as granted to us under the Home Rule Act," the letter reads. "Any changes or amendments to the District’s local laws should be done by the elected representatives of the District of Columbia."
"As those representatives, we alone are accountable to the voters of the District of Columbia," the councilmembers continued. "Just as Congress does not interfere in the local matter of other states, we compel you not to interfere in our matters."
"A vote against these two disapproval resolutions is a vote to protect that autonomy for the residents of the District," they added.
Washington, D.C., is not a state, but a federal district prescribed by the Constitution. Again, under federal law, Congress has the authority to disapprove of the city’s laws.
The council members claimed the acts allowing noncitizens, including illegal immigrants, to vote and lifting criminal offenses are "responsible enactments" and the "bills were approved after public hearings, extensive discussion, and thorough consideration by the Council of the District of Columbia."
Phil Mendelson, District of Columbia council chairman, speaks during a news conference ahead of a District of Columbia statehood bill vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 25, 2020. The June 26 vote to make D.C. the 51st U
The council also claimed the new criminal parameters it passed "bring DC’s criminal code in line with the code of 50 other states" and that the "current criminal code, dating back to 1901, is broadly considered outdated and incoherent."
The letter also claimed that the voting law "simply extends the franchise as a number of other jurisdictions have done for local elections."
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"It is highly problematic for the District if Congress steps in to interfere with Home Rule," the council claimed. "We could, of course, better explain this – and the legislation – if there were a hearing where we were invited to do so."
"We ask you to stand up against any attempts to undermine the autonomy Congress has granted the District and instead stand up for the democratic rights of District residents," the letter requests. "Thus, we urge you to reject any disapproval resolution or discharge of any such resolution from Committee."
The letter was sent to Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as well as Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., and ranking member Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Read more via FOX News.