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The District has had a rough couple of weeks trying to rebuff attempts by officials from outside the District trying to screw with happenings inside the District. There’s Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, who wants to block funding for D.C.’s marijuana decriminalization law. And then Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who wants to gut the city’s strict gun laws.
Last night on the House floor, Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky tried unsuccessfully to introduce an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2015 that would prohibit D.C. officials from enforcing gun laws that are inconsistent with federal laws.
His amendment read:
None of the funds made available by this Act, including amounts made available under titles IV or VIII, may be used by any authority of the government of the District of Columbia to prohibit the ability of any person to possess, acquire, use, sell or transport a firearm except to the extent such activity is prohibited by Federal law.
When trying to introduce the amendment last night, Massie argued that D.C.’s gun registration process is “ridiculous” and that required waiting periods are “arbitrary,” amounting to “pure harassment.”
“Why would the D.C. government want to punish and harass law-abiding citizens who simply want to defend themselves from criminals?” he asked. “Does anyone actually believe that strict gun control laws will prevent criminals from getting guns?”
Rep. Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat, objected to the introduction of the amendment, saying it violated rules by changing existing laws through a spending bill. (Serrano is the same congressman who defended D.C.’s right to govern itself when Harris tried to block D.C.’s decriminalization law with his amendment.)
The presiding chair agreed with Serrano, and despite an attempt by Massie to appeal the ruling, he was not allowed to introduce the amendment.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton released a statement saying that Massie forced his own party “to humilate him” on the floor.
Once the Chair called a point of order on Rep. Massie’s amendment, he was not only out of order, but he went on to show he was out of his league. It was high drama tonight, with D.C. winning this round, and Rep. Massie demonstrating he was not ready for primetime on the House floor. In the end, rather than give up on the procedural flaw in his amendment, Rep. Massie could not resist piling on to violate the District’s right to self-government despite his professed tea party, states’ rights principles. Rep. Massie has introduced only ten bills in the 113th Congress compared to my 64. His low productivity for the people of Kentucky he represents demonstrates he needs to get to work to bring home something for Kentucky rather than meddle in the local affairs of another Member’s district.
Norton noted in her press release that Massie could try to reintroduce the amendment tomorrow.
Earlier this week, the White House threatened to veto the House appropriations bill, in part because it contains amendments interfering with D.C. laws.
Gun photo by Shutterstock