The House District Committee postponed action yesterday on proposed legislation to change the way Congress vetoes city laws. Members want more time, until next week, to review the bill.
Sponsors, who had hoped to get to the House floor as early as Monday, are racing in an attempt to protect the city's Home Rule Act from possible court challenges in light of recent Supreme Court decisions declaring legislative vetoes unconstitutional.
Until the situation is clarified, the city cannot issue bonds because of the cloud over home rule authority, sponsors have said. Proponents are also racing to get the changes made before the D.C. City Council can send up controversial pieces of legislation that might lead to court challenges.
Committee members indicated yesterday they would try to bring the bill to the House floor on Oct. 3.
The legislation was introduced late Tuesday by D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy in the House and by Sens. Charles McC. Mathias (R-Md.) and Thomas Eagleton (D-Mo.) in the Senate.
The proposal, which they called a consensus plan, is a result of months of deliberations between city officials and key members of Congress and their staffs. But not all committee members were consulted, and some only saw the proposal yesterday morning.
Rep. Stewart McKinney (R-Conn.), ranking minority member of the District Committee, asked that committee consideration be postponed until Wednesday to give members a chance to look at the proposal. He predicted, however, that it will not have difficulty passing the full House.
Currently, Congress can overturn D.C. laws with a majority vote in one or both houses, depending on the type of law. The new proposal would require a joint resolution either passed by a majority of both houses and signed by the president or passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses over the president's veto.
In other action, the committee voted 9 to 0 for a bill already passed by the Senate to prevent the District from losing $8.4 million in federal contribution to the D.C. retirement fund because of what was called a technical mistake.
The panel postponed action on another measure to raise the mandatory retirement age of District judges from 70 to 74.