A resolution proposing a veto of the District of Columbia's citizen-voted gambling initiative has been introduced in Congress by Rep. Marjorie Holt (R-Md.), who has many constituents who earn part of their livelihood selling Maryland lottery tickets to District residents.
The proposal, which by a quirk in the District's Home Rule Charter apparently would require action only by one chamber of Congress, would block the start of a city-run lottery and daily numbers game as well as the legalizing of bingo and raffles for charity.
The measure was approved by D.C. voters Nov. 4 by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. But by terms of the charter, Congress still has 22 legislative days to adopt a resolution to overturn the measure.
An aide to Holt said she introduced the veto resolution on her own volition and not in response to constituents or any other group. "Mrs. Holt believes gambling is not any sound way to finance a government," the aide said, noting that she does not support Maryland's state lottery.
Last week, two members of the D.C. City Council -- Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large) and William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5) -- took the unprecedented step of calling on Congress to nullify the gambling initiative. This week, following sharp criticism from all 11 other council members and many citizens, Spaulding reversed himself.
Since limited home rule began in 1975, a total of 10 resolutions proposing vetoes of D.C. City Council actions have been introduced in Congress, but only one -- a measure restricting the location of foreign embassy offices, or chanceries -- was adopted, in 1979.
Ordinarily, D.C. legislation -- whether enacted by citizen initiative or by the council -- can be vetoed only by the action of both congressional chambers. A congressional staff lawyer said the gambling initiative can be vetoed by only one chamber, either the House or Senate, under a special charter provision never previously used that deals with making changes in the city's criminal code.