An Alaska lawmaker introduced two bills in the Senate on Thursday that would grant the District both budget and legislative autonomy.
Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, introduced legislation that mirrors bills introduced in the House by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting congressional representative.
The legislation would eliminate the congressional review period for laws passed by the D.C. Council, allow the District to set its own fiscal year and allow the city’s local taxpayer-raised budget to be spent without congressional approval.
While Mrs. Norton has introduced similar legislation in the past, she noted this is the first time a legislative-autonomy bill has been introduced in the Senate.
Activists cheered on the growing momentum for D.C. autonomy.
“The introduction of these bills — along with the implementation of the District’s local budget autonomy law — demonstrates progress in our fight for equal rights,” said D.C. Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry. “It is encouraging to have allies in Congress like Senator Begich who understand that federal micromanagement of the District is not only unjust, but also needlessly complicated and expensive.”
Currently, the District’s fiscal year is tied to that of Congress, and all laws passed by the D.C. Council must undergo a review period of up to 60 legislative days before taking effect.