WASHINGTON — Republican Kevin McCarthy is the new House speaker, but it took days and days, and 15 roll call votes, ending early Saturday. But as bruising as it was for McCarthy, his struggle to secure the job may be a prelude to the chaos ahead. To win over his detractors, McCarthy had to agree to relinquish some of the very powers he'll need to lead. Could those concessions also mean trouble for D.C.'s autonomy?
Would McCarthy's reported concessions actually put D.C.'s autonomy at risk?
WHAT WE FOUND:
One of McCarthy's reported concessions would allow unlimited amendments to government funding bills. Those could include riders, which are extra provisions that are tagged on to a bill and ride along with it throughout the legislative process.
Riders can allow lawmakers to impose on the District's autonomy by attaching D.C. rule changes to other bills. That could make things hard for Democrats. If an anti-D.C. rider was added to an otherwise popular bill, they would have a hard decision to make.
So who could target the District? Representatives like Georgia's Andrew Clyde, who floated the idea of scrapping the D.C. Home Rule Act last year. Or Maryland's Andy Harris, who blocked the District from legalizing marijuana sales back in 2015.
States have protection against riders: The vote of the representatives. But D.C. is different.
"We don't have that in the District because we don't have a voting representative," said Alan Morrison, Associate Dean at George Washington University Law.
Faced with the potential of unlimited amendments and a Republican House ready to pass them, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said she will be relying on D.C.'s allies more than ever.
"I think that the only recourse I have is through the Senate and the president," Norton said.
So we can verify that yes, if Speaker McCarthy really does allow unlimited amendments, the District's autonomy just got harder to maintain.