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Oversight Committee Turnover Means Uncertainty for D.C. Home Rule Advocates

February 15, 2018
  • D.C. Policy Center

On February 15, 2018, Deputy Director of Policy Kathryn Zickuhr was quoted in a National Journal article on what the retirement of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Trey Gowdy means for D.C. budget autonomy.

Congress has the ability to pass disapproval resolutions on bills passed by the D.C. Council, something it attempted to do with the city’s assisted suicide law last year. That right was first inscribed in 1973 when Congress passed the D.C Home Rule Act, which gave the city more control over its affairs, along with the right to elect a mayor and City Council.


Even if Jordan takes a more interventionist stance, the D.C. Home Rule Act doesn’t give him omnipotence or Congress unlimited time to act. Congress and the president have only 30 days (60 for changes to the criminal code) to pass and sign a joint disapproval resolution that would invalidate a Council-passed law.

Said D.C. Policy Center deputy policy director Kathryn Zickuhr:“Ultimately the chair of House Oversight sets the tone of the relationship with D.C.,” but the city is protected from “unilateral action from a particularly unfriendly chair” since disapproval resolutions must pass both chambers quickly.

A narrow Republican majority would make it harder to use the disapproval process, says D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss, but may not impact Republicans’ ability to attach riders to appropriations bills.

Read more: Oversight Committee Turnover Means Uncertainty for D.C. Home Rule Advocates | National Journal (paywall)


D.C. Policy Center

Established in 2016, the D.C. Policy Center is a non-partisan research and policy organization committed to advancing policies for a strong and vibrant economy in the District of Columbia. Through rigorous research and collaboration, the D.C. Policy Center develops and tests policy ideas, disseminates its findings, and engages in constructive dialogue and debate.

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