H.R. 5233, Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016

H.R. 5233

Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016

May 25, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, the House will begin consideration of H.R. 5233, the Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016, under a rule. H.R. 5233 was introduced on May13, 2016, by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which ordered the bill reported by a vote of 22-14 on May 17, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5233 repeals the Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012 passed by the District of Columbia and amends sections 450 and 603 of the Home Rule Act of 1973. Specifically, the Home Rule Act is amended to clarify that nothing in it shall be construed as creating a continuing appropriation of the General Fund of the District and all funds for the District of Columbia shall be appropriated on an annual fiscal year basis.  In addition, the Home Rule Act is also amended to declare that nothing included in the Act shall be construed as authorizing the District of Columbia to make any change in law, regulation, or basic procedure and practice relating to the respective roles of Congress, the President, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Government Accountability Office.


The authority for congressional review and approval of the District of Columbia’s budget is derived from the Constitution and the District of Columbia Self-Government and Government Reorganization Act of 1973 (Home Rule Act). The Constitution gives Congress the power to “exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” pertaining to the District of Columbia. In 1973, Congress granted the city limited home rule authority and empowered citizens of the District to elect a mayor and city council.  However, Congress retained the authority to review and approve all District laws, including the District’s annual budget. As required by the Home Rule Act, the city council must approve a budget within 56 days after receiving a budget proposal from the mayor.  The approved budget is then transmitted to the President, who forwards it to Congress for its review, modification, and approval through the annual appropriations process.[1]

In December 2012, the DC Council enacted the Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012. This purported to change the federal government’s role in the budget process as it relates to the local funds portion of the District budget.  The Local Budget Autonomy Act removed the local funds from the  required budget process of presentment to the President for transmission and approval by Congress through the appropriation process.  The Government Accountability Office found in 2014 that the Local Budget Autonomy Act had no legal effect.  The District of Columbia Home Rule Act, as well as the Antideficiency Act and the Budget and Accounting Act, serve and protect Congress’ constitutional power “to exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” over the District, as well as its constitutional power over the purse.[2]

[1] See CRS Report FY16 Appropriations: District of Columbia August 27, 2015.
[2] See GAO Report, District of Columbia – Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act of 2012 at 2.


A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is not currently available.


Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.