Kwame Brown, Darrell Issa appear to strike deal on background checks of city hires

This post has been updated.

Calling it a sign that the D.C. Council and Republicans on Capitol Hill can work together, Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) said he has won assurances for U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that the House won’t move forward with a proposal to require criminal background checks on new city hires.

On Monday, after the release of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report on Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s relationship to Sulaimon Brown, Issa (R-Calif.) introduced a bill that would require the checks of city’s “excepted service” positions.

Issa’s proposals unnerved many city officials, who decried it as an infringement on Home Rule. At Tuesday’s council meeting, Council member Mary M. Cheh (D) planned to introduce a resolution condemning Issa’s proposal.

But Brown said he called Issa Tuesday morning to urge him to stand down so the council could move forward with it’s own proposal to address concerns about the city’s vetting process. In exchange for Brown pledging to move forward with the council proposal, he said Issa agreed to withdraw his proposal on Capitol Hill.

Frederick Hill, communications director for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Issa agreed to put his bill “on hold” after he “secured a commitment” from Brown that the council would act within two months.

 “The chairman and the committee, of course, are going to wait and see what passes before making any judgment,” Hill said. “But they are looking at this with the optimistic belief that the D.C. Council will address concerns about improper hiring practices.”

Brown said the agreement shows the two bodies can work to find common ground.

“I called and reached out, from one legislator to another, and said we would like... to handle our own affairs locally,” said Brown, who informed Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) of the agreement before Tuesday’s council meeting.

Brown said he hopes to continue building relationships on Capitol Hill.

“I know a lot of people on Capitol Hill and I reach out… This is how we get back to good relationships,” Brown said. “This is about how we all work together.”

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

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