Councilmember Vincent Orange failed Monday in his attempt to make the general election ballot a little longer. After not convincing enough of his colleagues to back legislation that would give the D.C. Council more power over the mayor and attorney general, Orange will miss the July 18 deadline to put his measure on the ballot for November.
Orange’s measure, which would allow the Council to expel the mayor or attorney general if 11 of the 13 councilmembers agreed, fell two votes short of the nine votes needed for an emergency bill. But future mayors and attorneys general shouldn’t rest easy. Orange says he’ll be back after the summer recess to push to put the new expulsion power on the ballot for a future election.
“Now is the time to address the issue while there is no pending action against anyone,” Orange, a prolific texter, tells LL in a text message. “Why kick the can down the road?”
While Orange won a majority of the Council to his side, other members worried that allowing the body—-which has regularly found itself at odds with Vince Gray—-to expel the mayor and attorney general for breaking the law could lead to an out-of-control legislative branch. Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who voted against Orange’s legislation, feared that Orange’s bill would create a separation-of-powers crisis if voters approved it.
At the Council breakfast, at-large councilmember David Catania, whom LL guesses would prefer not to face the threat of expulsion himself if he wins the mayor’s office in November, pointed out that governments with impeachment processes have bicameral legislatures, not just 13 councilmembers who could oust the executive. Absent more discussion, Catania warned that Orange would give the Council powers to “take the government over by coup if the executive didn’t do exactly what it was told.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery