Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 22, 2014

Posts in "DC-Hill Relations"

July 18, 2014

Ryan Shucard Handgun Incident Casts Campus Security in New Light (Updated)

Updated 6:11 p.m. | Metal detectors and X-ray machines at the southeast door of the Cannon House Office Building  stopped Capitol Hill press secretary Ryan Shucard from allegedly carrying a 9 mm handgun and magazine to work on Friday.

Shucard, a staffer in the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., was arrested by Capitol Police and charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Shucard could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the felony, according to Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which will review the case.

Opponents of congressional efforts to wipe out the District’s gun laws seized on the arrest as an example of hypocrisy, while members of the Capitol Hill community pondered what could have happened if Shucard entered Cannon via the building’s garage. Full story

July 17, 2014

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Alfred Durham, prepare for a news conference in Rayburn on a House passed amendment by Rep. Thomas Massie’s, R-Ky., that would “block D.C. from enforcing its local gun laws, as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Services and General Services Appropriations bill,” July 17, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is optimistic about Senate support for an appropriations rider that would dismantle local gun laws in the District of Columbia, but he doubts the chamber will consider the measure.

“Twenty rank-and-file Democrats in the House voted for the amendment, and I know Democrats in the Senate would vote for the amendment,” Massie said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “But I suspect that Harry Reid will do everything he can to prevent that vote from happening.”

The Senate majority leader’s office did not respond to questions about Massie’s pro-gun proposal, which would make D.C. perhaps the most permissive jurisdiction in the nation. Neither did some of the vulnerable red-state Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee who are up for re-election in November — Alaska’s Mark Begich and Louisiana’s Mary L. Landrieu — who have also advocated greater autonomy for the District. Full story

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

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Massie is wading into the District’s gun laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of Congress’ most outspoken libertarians is the latest member to try to overturn the District of Columbia’s local gun laws. If successful, his proposal would make the District, home to cabinet officials, dignitaries from around the world and the president perhaps the most permissive gun jurisdiction in the country.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who in June rallied a bipartisan majority around an amendment to end warrantless collection of Americans’ online activities, attached language prohibiting D.C. from enforcing local firearm restrictions to the House bill funding the District.

“Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that struck down the D.C. handgun ban, as well as the unconstitutional gunlock provision, it is still difficult for D.C. residents to exercise their God-given right to bear arms,” Massie said Wednesday on the floor. “Congress has the authority to legislate in this area pursuant to article I, section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to ‘exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever’ over the District of Columbia.”

In a move decried as an assault on Home Rule, Massie tried to wield that authority Tuesday night with a similar amendment, but the measure was ruled out of order due to a procedural flaw. To the outrage of Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council, he tried again on Wednesday and the House adopted the gun rider 241-181, with the support of 20 Democrats. Full story

July 16, 2014

D.C. Pot Decriminalization Takes Effect, but Don’t Bring Bud to Capitol Hill

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If it’s Thursday, this is now a civil offense. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Despite House Republican attempts to derail decriminalization, marijuana possession becomes a civil offense in the District of Columbia on Thursday, punishable by a $25 fine.

“The government is prepared,” said Pedro Ribeiro, chief spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, said in an interview. “We’re ready for this to go into effect.”

On language blocking the District from lessening its drug penalties that was included in an appropriations bill that cleared the House Wednesday on a 228-195 vote, Ribeiro said, “We don’t believe that it will be a problem.”

Bringing bud to the Capitol, and on other federal property, however, can still land you behind bars. Full story

July 15, 2014

Mayoral Candidates Would Vary Approach to Hill on Home Rule

harris 011 080613 440x282 Mayoral Candidates Would Vary Approach to Hill on Home Rule

Harris says he knows best about marijuana policy in the District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A day after Rep. Andy Harris declared he was targeting with an appropriations rider a locally passed law that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia punishable by only a $25 ticket, Mayor Vincent Gray publicly denounced the congressman.

The Maryland Republican’s rider — strongly opposed by the White House — provokes questions about how the field of candidates vying to replace Gray in November would handle congressional infringements on home rule, which vary from face-to-face confrontations to economic boycotts, to Democratic nominee Muriel Bower’s plan to utilize a team of lobbyists. Full story

July 9, 2014

Activists Ready to Fight Rand Paul’s D.C. Gun Amendment in Senate (Updated)

Paul 12 031413 440x279 Activists Ready to Fight Rand Pauls D.C. Gun Amendment in Senate (Updated)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:12 p.m. | Activists on the national and local level are gearing up for the ensuing gun fight surrounding amendments to the Senate’s bipartisan hunting and fishing legislation, especially a proposal related to firearm control in the District of Columbia.

They view an amendment introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Tuesday afternoon that would restrict the D.C. Council’s authority to regulate firearms and handguns in the District as a threat to home rule.

“Senator Paul is at it again,” said DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry, reacting to the news that the libertarian lawmaker and potential 2016 presidential candidate is once again pushing to uproot the District’s gun policies. In 2012, Paul’s proposed gun-related amendments helped sink a Senate bill that would have granted D.C. budget autonomy from Congress.

“He continues to be hypocritical in the fact that he’s ignoring his own local government advocacy,” Perry continued, pointing out that Paul’s proclaimed support for state’s rights and local control seemed to conflict with his drive to overturn legislation passed by District officials.

While the senator’s amendment says it would repeal D.C.’s semiautomatic ban, there is no ban on registering semiautomatic weapons in the District. Current law bans registration of sawed-off shotguns, machine guns and short-barreled rifles. Paul’s amendment would end that ban and make legal assault weapons and certain rifles considered unsafe in D.C. code.

Overall, Paul’s amendment targets D.C. gun policies that were recently reaffirmed by a federal judge as consistent with the Second Amendment. The May ruling, hailed by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Vincent Gray, was a follow-up to the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that struck down D.C.’s ban on handgun possession.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Norton accused Paul of attacking home rule and pointed out that House conservatives are waging a similar battle in the other chamber. Paul pitches the proposal as a way to enhance public safety. The text of his amendment states: “The District of Columbia has the highest per capita murder rate in the Nation, which may be attributed in part to local laws prohibiting possession of firearms by law-abiding persons who would otherwise be able to defend themselves and their loved ones in their own homes and businesses.”

Brian Malte, senior national policy director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in an interview that Congress has “no business” trying to regulate public safety issues.

“The District of Columbia has very good and strong gun laws that are in place to protect the public,” Malte said, adding that the Brady Campaign wants to see Congress expand background checks on gun purchases, rather than dismantle existing laws.

Malte said gun safety advocates are assessing the situation right now, and would be calling up their allies to let them know about Paul’s “terrible amendment” and “other terrible amendments” that Republicans were trying to attach to the sportsmen’s bill.

During remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said he welcomes the gun debate and will offer an amendment that would stiffen penalties for those who buy a firearm for someone else who commits a crime.

“Girlfriends, wake up,” he said.

Sarah Chacko contributed to this report.

July 3, 2014

D.C. Activists Declare Independence From Andy Harris


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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you face less traffic on your July Fourth escape to Ocean City, you can thank the activists at DC Vote. The champions of local autonomy are recruiting D.C. residents to boycott the beach in defense of Home Rule.

In response to Maryland Rep. Andy Harris’ attempt to block D.C. officials from implementing local legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, DC Vote is encouraging people to boycott vacation destinations in the Republican’s Eastern Shore district.

“The people of the District have nothing against the people of Ocean City or any other place in Mr. Harris’ district,” said DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry in a statement issued in advance of the July Fourth holiday. “We hope they understand that the dictatorial action of their representative – along with our lack of a voting representative in Congress – leaves supporters of democracy with few options to respond to his unwarranted attack on DC’s local autonomy.” Full story

June 27, 2014

David Catania Storms Office of Andy Harris to Talk D.C. Pot Decriminalization

catania 030 060714 440x311 David Catania Storms Office of Andy Harris to Talk D.C. Pot Decriminalization

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tensions ran a little high in Rep. Andy Harris’ office on Friday morning when D.C. Councilmember and mayoral hopeful David Catania showed up demanding to talk about the Maryland Republican’s attempt to halt the District’s marijuana decriminalization legislation.

Like most members of Congress, Harris was absent from Capitol Hill — back home in his district, according to deputy chief of staff Chris Meekins. Harris’ scheduler and chief of staff were also absent when Catania came calling shortly after 8:30 a.m., Meekins said.

“I’m here to address what has become a congressional pastime, which is interfering in the local affairs of the District of Columbia,” said Catania, who is campaigning as an independent for the November election. Full story

June 26, 2014

Norton Challenger Thinks a Transformed District Deserves a New Delegate

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Krepp is an independent candidate to be the District’s congressional delegate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While Washington’s streetscape, city government and demographics have changed dramatically over the past quarter-century, its representation in Congress has stayed constant over roughly the same period of time.

District voters first elected Eleanor Holmes Norton to be their non-voting delegate to the House in 1990, as a crack epidemic and related surge of violence made the city notorious as the nation’s “murder capital.”

During the mid-1990s, she helped the city navigate a series of managerial crises that led Congress to take control of D.C.’s finances and fought against further erosion of home rule. She routinely won re-election with more than 90 percent of the vote throughout the 2000s, as she worked to soften some Capitol Hill attitudes toward the revived and growing city. This April, she began cruising toward a 13th term with 97 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.

Local tour guide and historian Tim Krepp looks at all the changes the city has undergone during Norton’s 24 years in Congress — from budget deficits to surpluses, from an exodus to the suburbs to some of the nation’s fastest urban population growth — and says it’s time for voters to re-evaluate whom they want advocating for their interests on Capitol Hill. Full story

June 25, 2014

House GOP Moves to Kill ‘Poorly Done’ D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Law

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Harris thinks the D.C. law is “poorly done.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee is using the power of the purse to block the District from implementing a local law to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

On a 28-21 vote, mainly along party lines, lawmakers adopted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., stating: “None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution” of Schedule I drugs, including pot “for recreational purposes.”

“This is not because it’s the politically popular thing to do,” Harris told his colleagues, explaining that it was necessary because the legislation that D.C.’s elected officials enacted was “poorly done.” Full story

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