Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez implied Wednesday that racism lies behind this week’s push by Republicans to end voting rights for non-citizens in the capital of Washington, D.C.
House lawmakers debated a resolution that would disapprove of a D.C. Council law allowing non-citizens and illegal immigrants to vote in the city. Several Democrats took to the floor to argue that Republicans were looking to micromanage the city, and Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., went further by saying the GOP seems to be targeting minorities.
She said Republicans “claim they believe in the sacred right to vote while denying that right to vote to an overwhelmingly Black city,” and accused Republicans of trying to “meddle into the business of D.C. residents.”
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Ocasio-Cortez added that while other cities around the country have allowed non-citizens to vote, Republicans are only calling up legislation dealing with Washington, D.C.
“They’re singling out the residents of the District of Columbia and expanding in the history of disenfranchisement that goes all the way back to the legacy of slavery,” she argued.
Ocasio-Cortez last week erupted at Republicans last week just before lawmakers passed a resolution that kicked Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., off the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“There is nothing consistent with the Republican Party’s continued attack, except for the racism and incitement of violence against women of color in this body,” she said.
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The District of Columbia was explicitly created the Constitution as an area designated as “the Seat of the Government of the United States.” Congress has a unique authority under the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to reject laws passed by the D.C. Council, which is why lawmakers occasionally consider legislation affecting the district.
In Wednesday debate, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., pointed out that authority on the House floor after Ocasio-Cortez spoke.
“Congress has jurisdiction over D.C., and we need to ensure a vibrant Capitol city,” she said.
GOP leaders have said Congress has an interest in making sure the district doesn’t disenfranchise U.S. citizens by allowing non-citizens to vote, and some has said giving non-citizens this privilege will only make the immigration crisis worse.
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House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., said last week that the D.C. law “sends the wrong message to those who are seeking to come into our country illegally.”
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Republicans also noted that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser refused to sign the law, and that it was also opposed by the Washington Post’s editorial board. The House will vote on the resolution on Thursday.