House committee moves to overturn DC assisted suicide law

Rep. Jason Chaffetz questions Cecile Richards participates in a hearing on Capitol Hill on September 29, 2015 in Washington.

Story highlights

  • In December, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Death with Dignity Act
  • Under the Constitution, Congress has the authority to nullify measures passed by the Washington city council

Washington (CNN)A House committee has voted to overturn a Washington, DC, law allowing assisted suicide, drawing outrage from the city's leadership, which is claiming Congress is overstepping its authority to reverse the district's laws.

In December, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Death with Dignity Act, which legalized assisted suicide in the district and gave doctors the ability to offer lethal medication to individuals who are terminally ill and will die within six months.
Under the Constitution, however, Congress has the authority to block legislation passed by DC's council. On Monday, the House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, voted 22-14 to disapprove of the law. The next step is to pass a resolution between the full House and Senate and send the measure to President Donald Trump.
    "I urge Chairman Chaffetz to allow DC officials to govern DC -- and focus on the more pressing issues facing our country. Just as he continues to look out for the self determination of the residents of Utah, I'd expect the chairman to let us be governed according to our DC values," Bowser said in a statement Monday.
    "This is yet another attempt by this House committee to trample the autonomy of the DC government and undermine our local control granted through Home Rule," Bowser said.
    When asked for comment, Chaffetz's spokesperson pointed to a January op-ed in The Washington Post in which the Utah congressman wrote, "Those who argue that the D.C. Council, in its capacity as the local government, has spoken for the citizens of the District ignore a central and crucial fact: The awesome responsibility of acting as the state for the citizens of the District lies not in the hands of a local government, but with Congress."
    He continued: "While the Home Rule Act of 1973 delegated to the District the ability to carry out some legislative functions and the authority to form a local government, the act reserved the role of state for Congress alone, and Congress has rightfully provided itself with the ability to review all legislation passed by the District."