There was never any doubt about it, but now it’s official. The budget autonomy Charter amendment passed with 83 percent of the vote in yesterday’s referendum. The people of the District of Columbia have spoken overwhelmingly, and they’ve made it clear that they are determined to play an active role in advancing democracy for their city. Thanks to the voters, the District has taken a big step toward being able to spend its own money as it wishes, without an act of Congress—just like every other city in America.
But there’s more to be done.
Under the Home Rule Act, once the referendum results are certified, the Charter amendment must be sent to Congress for 35 legislative days–meaning business days that both Houses are in session. That review period will expire sometime this summer. The Charter amendment will then become law, unless during that time both the House and the Senate pass a joint resolution of disapproval that is subsequently signed by the President.
As the legal architect of the referendum, DC Appleseed, working with its partner DC Vote, made the case for the Charter amendment before the Council and the Board of Elections. We are particularly grateful for the leadership shown on this issue by Chairman Phil Mendelson and by the General Counsel to the Council. And we stand ready to defend the will of the people and their elected officials as we enter the next stage of the District’s fight for democracy.