Democrat-controlled D.C. City Council may be on verge of allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections

March 2, 2023
Ben Marquis

The Democratic Party for years has sought to extend the right to vote in U.S. elections to noncitizens and even illegal aliens, and the Democrat-controlled Washington D.C. City Council appears to be on the verge of accomplishing exactly that.

The D.C. City Council passed a bill last year that would allow noncitizens to vote in local elections, and proclaimed last week that the bill had become law after a mandatory 30-day congressional review period had lapsed, BizPacReview reported.

However, subsequent reporting suggests that this bill, which would reportedly allow all otherwise eligible noncitizens -- including illegal aliens and foreign diplomats -- to cast a vote if they have lived in D.C. for more than 30 days, may not actually be in effect just yet, contrary to the council's claims.

D.C. to allow noncitizens to vote

The D.C. Council's bill, B24-0300, dubbed the Local Voting Rights Act of 2021, was first introduced in June 2021 and then lay dormant for a year until it was resurrected in June 2022, debated and marked up in September, then ultimately passed in October 2022.

Democratic D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to sign the measure but didn't veto it either, and it was enacted in late November without her signature and was sent to Congress on January 10 for the required congressional review period that lasts for 30 working days, which would end on February 23.

If fully enacted into law, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, the measure would allow an estimated 42,000-plus noncitizens of voting age to participate in D.C.'s local elections, including approximately 20,000 illegal aliens and an unspecified number of foreign diplomats who reside in the nation's capital city.

House passed resolution to disapprove of D.C. bill

Congressional Republicans immediately cried foul, according to BPR, and Rep. James Comer (R-KY) filed a resolution to condemn and disapprove the D.C. City Council's bill.

"Voting is a pillar of American democracy and a constitutional right that undeniably needs to be protected and preserved for citizens of this country," the Kentucky congressman said in a statement at that time. "The D.C. Council’s reckless decision to allow non-U.S. citizens and illegal immigrants the right to vote in local elections is an attack on the foundation of this republic."

Roll Call reported on February 9 that Comer's resolution was passed by the House with a bipartisan vote of 260-162, which included 42 House Democrats voting alongside their Republican colleagues against the council's bill.

The House resolution was then sent to the Senate, but according to a February 27 Fox News report, the Democrat-controlled Senate failed to take up that measure for a vote prior to February 23, at which point the D.C. City Council publicly declared that their bill was now law since Congress had failed to block it within the 30-day review period.

Not so fast

However, the D.C. City Council may have celebrated their victory too soon, as local NBC affiliate WRC reported on Wednesday that the Senate parliamentarian has intervened to clarify that the review period actually hasn't ended just yet.

Per the parliamentarian, the 30-day period is applicable to each chamber of Congress, so while February 23 marked 30 working days since the bill was transmitted to the House on January 10, the clock started over once the House resolution was sent to the Senate on January 30.

That means the 30 working days review period actually won't expire until March 14, which gives Senate Republicans roughly two weeks to try and force a vote on the disapproval resolution.

And, complicating matters for both the D.C. City Council and Senate Democrats is that the GOP stands poised to succeed in blocking the new voting rights law, as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said he will vote alongside Republicans and Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) is currently hospitalized, meaning Republicans will have the majority whenever the resolution finally hits the floor.

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