News & Politics

Here Are All the Ways a New House GOP Bill Tells DC What to Do

From neutering traffic cameras to allowing Metro concealed carry, Congress is up in our business.

Photograph by code6d/Getty.

A House committee controlled by Republicans this week released the first draft of a major appropriations bill for the upcoming fiscal year that would fund Treasury Department functions, White House upkeep, federal judiciary staff salaries, and many other routine and essential parts of the federal government—oh, and also invalidate a number of DC laws while restricting funding for several DC programs.

As the relevant committee’s official bill markup affectionately puts it, Congress “exercises much-needed oversight of the District of Columbia.” Because our city is not a state—even though we pay federal taxes, have a larger population than Vermont and Wyoming, and overwhelmingly favor becoming a state—our local legislation can be modified or undermined by lawmakers beholden to far-away constituencies with their own sets of policy preferences and political concerns.

In the new bill, the DC-related measures take the form of policy riders, which lawmakers often tack onto unrelated, must-pass legislation in order to push them through. Before the bill is passed, it will face heavy scrutiny and changes from the full House and the Senate, and could always be vetoed by the President. So it’s possible some of these items will die on the Hill, unloved and forgotten, much like Kevin McCarthy’s House Speakership.

In the meantime, here are all the ways a GOP-dominated group of lawmakers—none of whom DC residents voted for—intend to control our lives:

  • Concealed carry of handguns would be legal in DC and on the Metro. Anyone who holds a weapons carry permit, no matter what state or territory it was issued in, would be able to bring it to DC. (Currently, any firearm carried in DC has to be registered in the District).
  • DC funding for abortions for low-income women would remain prohibited.
  • DC would be prohibited from enforcing its Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2022, which bans chokeholds, restricts the use of force, requires officer training on de-escalation and force, and increases access to police body cam footage, among other policies.
  • DC would not be able to issue tickets from its traffic cameras, which would lead to a loss of revenue that city leaders estimate in the hundred millions.
  • DC’s Death with Dignity Act would be repealed. The 2016 law gives terminally ill adults with less than six months to live the option to end their lives.
  • DC’s needle exchange program, which provides clean needles to drug users to prevent infections, would be banned.
  • DC regulation that adopts California standards requiring only zero-emissions vehicles to be sold after 2035 would be blocked.
  • Noncitizen voting in DC elections would be prohibited.
  • DC would not be able to use local funding for anything related to Covid-19 vaccination and masking mandates.
  • Funding which helps pay for DC students to attend state universities would be cut in half.

And of course, the most important issue facing our nation:

  • DC would not be allowed to prohibit right turns on red. House members could be running late to work!
Josie Reich
Editorial Fellow