John A. Wilson Building, home to the local government
John A. Wilson Building. Credit: Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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The D.C. Council is getting a new look next year. It’ll be majority female for the first time in decades. The Council will also be majority Black. And the way the Council operates will change, given that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson released new committee assignments for next year.   

The big picture: It’s a little inside baseball, but Council committees will help shape future legislation in what is going to be a critical year for recovery efforts. Lawmakers will have to address a supplemental budget, looming eviction crisis, and so much more. Bills can get stuck in committee, just ask bike advocates.  

Mendelson released committee assignments Tuesday afternoon for Council Period 24, which begins January. 

The big changes: the creation of a COVID-19 response committee, the abolition of a stand-alone education committee, and the removal of councilmembers that introduced ambitious rent control legislation from the housing committee. 

Some were pleased with the new assignments. “Transportation [committee] will soon have a supermajority of progressives to advance: electrification of the bus fleet, [protected bike lane] on 9th Street, more funding for WMATA, and mandatory construction of [protected bike lane] networks,” tweeted one resident. 

Others read the tea. “In 2001, Mendo was tasked with the same dreadful duty,” tweeted Chuck Thies, a veteran political operative, of At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman chairing the special committee on redistricting. “In ’02, during his first reelect, politically significant gripes about redistricting were frequently raised by residents and amplified by opponents. Silverman is up for [reelection] in ’22. That’s what u get when u cross Mendo.” (Let’s just say, Mendelson and Silverman bumped heads this year.)

The shake ups with education and housing captured the attention of advocates the most. Notably, the coronavirus pandemic has only widened racial and economic disparities in education and housing. As it relates to the housing committee, Mendelson replaced Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and Trayon White (Ward 8) with Councilmembers Brooke Pinto (Ward 2) and Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5). That leaves the housing committee without a ward-level member who represents residents east of the Anacostia River, where over 60 percent of executed evictions take place. “The rate of executed evictions is 13 times higher in Ward 8 than Ward 2,” according to a recent Georgetown report.  

Nadeau—who co-sponsored a bill with Trayon White that would expand rent control units by about 13,000—tells LL she actually wanted to stay on the housing committee. Read the full story online here

A note to readers: This is our last newsletter until the new year. We want to thank you for reading. It’s been a challenging year for us all, so we appreciate you trusting us to deliver honest journalism. Please believe that our reporters and editors always strive to uncover the truth, provide critical context, and offer up something new about this great city we call home. Expect to see us again in your inbox Jan. 4. And in the meantime, please consider supporting our work by becoming a member.

—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips?

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