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 councilmembers 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.
‘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 councilmembers 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.’
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line with the code of 50 other states’ and that the ‘current criminal code, dating back to 1901, is braodly considered outdated and incoherent.’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.’
‘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.
When asked for comment on the letter, McConnell’s office pointed FOX News Digital to his remarks on crime after Minnesota Democrat Rep. Angie Craig’s D.C. attack earlier this month.
‘Unfortunately, the radical local government here is doing the opposite,’ McConnell said on the Senate floor. ‘The D.C. Council has responded to the crime wave with a new bill to make the city even softer on crime.’
‘It lowers maximum penalties for violent crimes and creates new ways to shorten the sentences of incarcerated felons,’ McConnell said. ‘Well, the good news is the Constitution actually gives the United States Congress final say over issues in our nation’s capital.’
‘And when the soft-on-crime local government has become this incompetent; when members of Congress can’t go about their daily lives without being attacked; when families cannot come to visit their own capital in safety; then it is high time the federal government provides some adult supervision,’ McConnell added.
Earlier this month, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., vowed that Republicans will ‘undo’ the D.C. city council’s law allowing illegal immigrants to vote.
‘Really? Does anybody in this country think that as someone working at the Chinese embassy here in Washington, D.C., should be voting in the presidential election? Absolutely not,’ Emmer said. ‘It’s insane what they did.’ Emmer also blasted a second law passed by the D.C. city council that ‘literally eliminates all mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines,’ quipping he ‘would argue is the Democrats full-employment-for-criminals bill.’
‘Literally, with the exception of first-degree murder, carjacking, et cetera, sexual crimes, all of this stuff, they are going to lift the . . . mandatory sentencing requirements,’ Emmer said.
‘Insane,’ he added. ‘We, the Republicans in the House, are going to reassert some common-sense conservative values.’
Emmer noted that Congress ‘is responsible for the District of Columbia’ and that there ‘are two resolutions that will get voted on in the House tomorrow’ to reverse the laws.