Council Chairman Phil Mendelson

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How can Phil Mendelson reach the youth? Breakfast politicking couldn’t save the D.C. Council chairman from facing a freshmen-powered revolt today over when to trigger new tax cuts.

Mendelson wanted to start the tax cuts this month, while four of the Council’s five freshmen, along with At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange and Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, supported Muriel Bowser‘s February 2016 trigger. 

In the end, Mendelson managed to win a September compromise proposed by At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds and freshman Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, a deal they announced came from the “old school and the new school.” But first, Mendelson had to defeat a six-member bloc backing the February trigger.

As some of the freshmen councilmembers said that they wanted a February trigger to allow for more debate, Mendelson lamented that the “problem” with having so many freshmen was that they didn’t know the discussions had already taken place. Orange, meanwhile, effectively told Mendelson to get over it.

“The fact that we have five new councilmembers, that’s the reality of the day,” Orange said at the Council breakfast.

Orange accused Mendelson and Ward 2 Councilmember (and tax cut super-fan) Jack Evans of sliding the June trigger into the Budget Support Act without notifying other members. Alexander echoed the same claim on the dais.

“I’m not going to use the idea that we have five new members on the Council, but maybe that’s why it was slipped in,” Alexander said.

Mendelson argued that if councilmembers and their staffers don’t know what’s in legislation, that’s on them.

The September compromise managed to win a slim majority for Mendelson, who used it to add Bonds and Allen to a bloc that already included Evans, At-Large Councilmember David Grosso, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie.

Orange, Alexander, and freshmen councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), Brandon Todd (Ward 4), LaRuby May (Ward 8), and Elissa Silverman (at-large) voted for the unsuccessful February trigger. At the breakfast, Nadeau disputed that only the freshmen supported delaying the tax cuts.

“I haven’t done a tally, but I think [Orange] isn’t new,” she said.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery