House Republicans move to block DC assisted-suicide law as tensions mount

February 15, 2017

House Republicans have escalated a simmering battle with District of Columbia leaders after voting Monday night to block a controversial law legalizing assisted suicide in the nation’s capital.

The move is the latest effort by Congress to flex its constitutional muscle to challenge policies in the district it calls home.

Republicans recently have used – or threatened to use – that power to roll back everything from D.C.’s gun laws to the legalization of marijuana.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which voted to block D.C.’s assisted-suicide policy, told The Washington Post his opposition stems from “deep personal, moral conviction” and said he’s worried the law “will create a marketplace for death.”

D.C. critics have questioned his motives and accused him of using his post to gain favor with conservative and religious groups.

6 Comments - what are your thoughts?

  • Jean Langford M. says:


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  • Tiger says:

    What people of America don’t understand about the District of Columbia.

    Constitutional provisions

    James Madison explained the need for a federal district on January 23, 1788, in the Federalist No. 43,
    arguing that the national capital needed to be distinct from the
    states, in order to provide for its own maintenance and safety.[1] An attack on the Congress at Philadelphia by a mob of angry soldiers, known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, had emphasized the need for the government to see to its own security.[2] Therefore, the authority to establish a federal capital was provided in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, which states that Congress shall have the power:

    To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such
    District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of
    particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of
    the Government of the United States

    The phrase “exclusive legislation in all Cases whatsoever” has been
    interpreted to mean that Congress is the ultimate authority over the
    District, thereby limiting local self-government by the city’s
    residents. However, the Founding Fathers
    envisioned that Congress would devolve some of this power to the local
    level. For example, Madison stated in the Federalist No. 43 that “a
    municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own
    suffrages, will of course be allowed them.”[1]

    History of self-government

    See also: History of Washington, D.C. and List of mayors of Washington, D.C.

    On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington.
    As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the initial shape of the federal
    district was a square, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side,
    totaling 100 square miles (260 km2). The Residence Act also
    provided for the selection of a three-member board of commissioners,
    appointed by the President, charged with overseeing the construction of
    the new capital.[3]
    Two other incorporated cities that predated the establishment of the
    District were also included within the new federal territory: Georgetown, founded in 1751,[4] and the City of Alexandria, Virginia, founded in 1749.[5]
    A new “federal city” called the City of Washington was then constructed
    on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of the established
    settlement at Georgetown.

    Robert Brent, first mayor of the city of Washington

    The Organic Act of 1801
    officially organized the District of Columbia and placed the entire
    federal territory, including the cities of Washington, Georgetown, and
    Alexandria under the exclusive control of Congress. In 1802, the board
    of commissioners was disbanded and the City of Washington was officially
    incorporated. The city’s incorporation allowed for a local municipal
    government consisting of a mayor appointed by the President and an
    elected six-member council.[6]
    The local governments of Georgetown and Alexandria were also left
    intact. As such, the citizens of Georgetown retained their locally
    elected mayor.[7] In 1812, the council was given the power to elect the mayor.[8] In 1820, the Congress granted the City of Washington a new charter, which allowed for a mayor elected by voters.[9]

    During these first few years of the city’s development, the federal government maintained a laissez faire approach to the city’s affairs. However, in 1829 with the new administration of President Andrew Jackson and the election of pro-Jackson
    majorities in each house of Congress, the federal government began
    intervening more in the city’s local affairs. Most of the disputes
    between the federal and municipal governments involved financing for
    capital projects in the city.

    The disputes became more political in 1840 when the city elected a member of the anti-Jackson Whig Party
    as mayor. Two weeks after the election, members of Congress submitted
    legislation to alter the charter of the City of Washington to remove the
    city’s elected government.[10]
    However, the bill was unable to pass the Congress due to disputes among
    members about the status of slavery in the District. The election of
    President William Henry Harrison, who was favorable to residents of the District, assured that the proposed bill would not become law.[11]

    In the years preceding and during the American Civil War,
    the District developed a complicated, piecemeal government. Separate
    municipal authorities for the cities of Washington and Georgetown
    remained intact, but shared jurisdiction with overlapping authorities
    for the whole District, such as the Metropolitan Police Department founded in 1861.[12]
    Following the Civil War, the city experienced a large increase in its
    population; by 1870, the District’s population had grown to nearly
    Despite the city’s growth, Washington still had dirt roads and lacked
    basic sanitation; the situation was so bad that some members of Congress
    proposed moving the capital elsewhere.

    Each of the city’s eight wards is further divided into local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.

    In order to build new infrastructure and make the city’s government operate more efficiently, Congress passed the Organic Act of 1871,
    which created a new government for the entire federal territory. This
    Act effectively combined the City of Washington, Georgetown, and
    unincorporated area known then as Washington County, into a single municipal government for the whole District of Columbia.[14]
    In the same Organic Act, Congress created a territorial government
    which consisted of a legislative assembly with an upper-house composed
    of eleven council members appointed by the President and a 22-member
    house of delegates elected by the people,[8] as well as an appointed Board of Public Works charged with modernizing the city. In 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed the board’s most influential member, Alexander Robey Shepherd,
    to the new post of governor. Shepherd authorized large-scale projects
    to modernize Washington but overspent three times the approved budget,
    bankrupting the city. In 1874, Congress abolished the District’s local
    government in favor of direct rule.[15]

    The territorial government was replaced by a three-member Board of Commissioners;[8] two members appointed by the President after approval by the Senate and a third member was selected from the United States Army Corps of Engineers. One of the three members would be selected to act as President of the Board.[16]
    This form of government continued for nearly a century. Between 1948
    and 1966, six bills were introduced in Congress to provide some form of
    home rule, but none ever passed.

    In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson presented to Congress a plan to reorganize the District’s government designed by David Carliner.[17]
    The three-commissioner system was replaced by a government headed by a
    nine-member city council, a single mayor-commissioner, and an assistant
    to the mayor-commissioner, all appointed by the president.[17] The mayor-commissioner and his assistant served four-year terms,[18] while the councilmembers served three-year terms.[17] While the Council was officially nonpartisan, no more than six of Councilmembers could be of the same political party.[18] Councilmembers were expected to work part-time.[17]
    All councilmembers and either the mayor-commissioner or his assistant
    was required to have been a resident of the District of Columbia for the
    three years preceding appointment.[18] All must be District residents while serving their terms in office.[18]

    Council members had the quasi-legislative powers of the former Board
    of Commissioners, approving the budget and setting real estate tax
    The mayor-commissioner could, without any Congressional approval,
    consolidate District agencies and transfer money between agencies,
    powers that the preceding Board of Commissioners could not do since
    The mayor-commissioner could veto the actions of the Council, but the
    Council could override the veto with a three-fourths vote.[17]

    Despite a push by many Republicans and conservative Democrats in the
    House of Representatives to reject Johnson’s plan, the House of
    Representatives accepted the new form of government for the District by a
    vote of 244 to 160.[20] Johnson said that the new District government would be more effective and efficient.[17]

    Walter E. Washington was appointed the first mayor, and Thomas W. Fletcher was appointed the first deputy mayor.[21] The first Council appointments were Chairman John W. Hechinger, Vice Chairman Walter E. Fauntroy, Stanley J. Anderson, Margaret A. Haywood, John A. Nevius, William S. Thompson, J.C. Turner, Polly Shackleton, and Joseph P. Yeldell.[21]

    1973 Home Rule Act

    On December 24, 1973, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, providing for an elected mayor and the 13-member Council of the District of Columbia.[22] Each of the city’s eight wards elects a single member of the council and five members, including the chairman, are elected at large.[23]

    There are 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions
    (ANCs) elected by small neighborhood districts. ANCs traditionally
    wield a great deal of influence and the city government routinely takes
    their suggestions into careful consideration.[24]
    The Council has the ability to pass local laws and ordinances. However,
    pursuant to the Home Rule Act all legislation passed by the D.C.
    government, including the city’s local budget, remains subject to the
    approval of Congress.[25]

    The Home Rule Act specifically prohibits the Council from enacting certain laws that, among other restrictions, would:[26]

    lend public credit for private projects;

    impose a tax on individuals who work in the District but live elsewhere;

    make any changes to the city’s federally mandated height limit;

    pass any law changing the composition or jurisdiction of the local courts;

    enact a local budget that is not balanced; and

    gain any additional authority over the National Capital Planning Commission, Washington Aqueduct, or District of Columbia National Guard.

    As noted, the Home Rule Act prohibits the District from imposing a
    commuter tax on non-residents who make up over 60% of the city’s
    workforce. In addition, over 50% of property in the District is also
    exempt from taxation.[27] The Government Accountability Office
    and other organizations have estimated that these revenue restrictions
    create a structural deficit in the city’s budget of anywhere between
    $470 million and over $1 billion per year.[27][28][29] While Congress typically provides larger grants to the District for federal programs such as Medicaid and the local justice system, analysts claim that the payments do not resolve the imbalance.[28][29]
    The proposed FY 2017 budget figures show the District raising about $10
    Billion in local revenue, out of a proposed FY 2017 $13.4 Billion



  • Tiger says:

    Can we help choose the people in D.C. that should be allowed to use this? Do they have to be a certain age? Sarcasm but reality is when you open this door you pay a heavy price as a people and you are on a slippery slope to doing away with those who, in the minds of many are past their usefulness.

  • teaman says:

    This congress needs to nail down every piece of dummycratic liberal garbage and make sure their correction can never be changed by the totally mentally ill left at any time in the future for our Nations existence is at stake.

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