Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — who frequently attempts to overturn D.C. laws — introduced a joint resolution Monday disapproving of the bill, calling it a “dangerous violation of parental rights and children’s health.”
Because of D.C.’s unique status as a federal district, legislation passed by the council must be reviewed by Congress before it can become law. A disapproval resolution blocking D.C. laws has not succeeded since 1991, and only three succeeded before then, although Congress has used other mechanisms — such as riders — to block laws relating to government-funded abortions and commercializing marijuana.
With Democrats in control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said, Lee’s resolution should have “no chance whatsoever” of passing. The president would also have to approve a joint resolution to block a bill that way.
The D.C. legislation has drawn strong opposition, including from the anti-vaccine community. Several city residents testified against it at a recent hearing that was focused on the coronavirus vaccine rollout. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) voted against the bill, arguing that an 11-year-old is too young to make independent decisions about medical care.
In a news release, Lee called the bill “a threat to District children, their families, and the entire community.”
“Young children do not know their medical histories, potential allergies, or possess adult judgment, which is the whole point of having parents make healthcare decisions on behalf of their kids,” his release said.
The statement listed several co-sponsors for the resolution, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.).
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said Wednesday in a statement that “the state of Utah should not be deciding what is best for the public health in the District, just as we should not tell Utah what’s best.”
“Further, Congress no longer runs the District, and its members don’t have the context within which our laws are made,” he said.
Norton said Lee has been a “chronic interferer in matters involving the District” — even though the Salt Lake Tribune, which first reported on Lee’s resolution, said he has criticized federal meddling in local affairs.
“He must have staff members over there looking for ways to interfere with the District,” said Norton, who has often sparred with Lee over his attempts to set policy in the District. Lee has introduced bills to ban abortion after 20 weeks in the city, overhaul D.C.’s occupational licensing system, and gut its anti-discrimination law for LGBT people. “He’s chronically trying,” Norton said. “I just think this is a member who doesn’t have enough work to do.”
Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.