House Republicans Propose Eliminating Gun Free Zones In Challenge To DC Home Rule

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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District leaders are challenging Republicans in the House of Representatives over a bill that limits budget autonomy through amendments to ease gun control in the city.

Republican Representative Thomas Massie is proposing eliminating gun-free zones in the District and passing a law allowing for concealed and open carry of firearms. Representative Gary Palmer introduced a separate amendment stopping the District from spending local funds on abortion services. The Republican amendments are meant to challenge amendments introduced by Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s non-voting representative in the House, aimed at protecting District home rule, reports Washington City Paper.

Officials in D.C. are currently battling Congress over who has final fiscal authority in the city. Officials in the District want to be granted home rule, which is the idea that they can legislate free of Congressional interference. Norton introduced three amendments Monday, focusing on a 2013 referendum where D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved budget autonomy from the House of Representatives.

“This week, House Republicans once again look to violate their self-proclaimed principles of local control over local affairs by imposing undemocratic riders on the District of Columbia,” Norton said in a statement. “If Members want to step all over D.C. home rule and our right to self-government, I am going to force them to do it on record and in front of the American people.”

One of Norton’s amendments would write the 2013 referendum into federal law, solidifying the District’s ability to spend funds without Congressional approval. The second amendment eliminates a Congressional rider barring the D.C. Council from using unspent local funds to regulate legalized marijuana, which would open up the possibility of broader legalization in the city. The third amendment would eliminate a similar rider which bans the city from spending local funds on abortion. (RELATED: Battle Over DC Budget Escalating As Obama Threatens Veto)

The District passed a budget autonomy amendment in 2013 eliminating a measure from the city charter requiring them to wait for congressional approval before spending money from their budget. The amendment says the city can start spending after a 30 day review period upon submission to Congress in which they can only cast an up or down vote approving the budget.

The U.S. District Court struck the amendment down, however the D.C. Superior Court ruled in March the District has a right to spend freely. The D.C. Council argues the judge’s ruling is all the approval it needs to defy Congress. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan labeled the District leader’s attempt to flout Congress as unconstitutional at a similar vote in May.

Norton is blasting House Republicans, particularly Representative Massie, over their push for eased gun control laws.

“With no regard for families in Orlando who are still in shock, Representatives Palmer and Massie are shamelessly using the D.C. appropriations bill to act out discrimination and personal gun preferences at the expense of D.C. residents,” Norton said in a statement. “I will fight to keep these undemocratic and abhorrent amendments from coming to the House floor.”

(Editor’s note: Only Rep. Thomas Massie proposed eliminating gun-free zones in the District.)

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