House Bill on D.C. Hiring Pulled

Bill would have required criminal background checks for political appointees

Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011  |  Updated 7:03 PM EDT
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There are growing fears that a series of city government scandals could prompt Congress to take a more active role in how the city is run. One Capitol Hill committee already threatened to rewrite the city's personnel laws to require criminal background checks on city workers.

Tom Sherwood

There are growing fears that a series of city government scandals could prompt Congress to take a more active role in how the city is run. One Capitol Hill committee already threatened to rewrite the city's personnel laws to require criminal background checks on city workers.

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A leading House Republican agreed to set aside a bill that would have required criminal background checks for political appointees in the District of Columbia.

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown reached out to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Tuesday morning and informed him that the D.C. Council is working on a similar bill, the Associated Press reported. Issa agreed not to go forward with the bill to give the council a chance to pass its own legislation, a spokesman for the congressmen said.

Issa chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has jurisdiction over District government. The bill was prompted by questions about the hiring of Sulaimon Brown, a former mayoral candidate who claims he was paid and promised a job last year by Mayor Vincent Gray's campaign staff.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Democrats on the committee had no knowledge of Issa’s bill and the Republicans on the committee’s report on the city’s hiring practices before Monday, Norton’s office said. Norton spoke to Issa after Brown and said the congressman said he would remedy that.

The Capitol Hill threat demonstrates how hiring and political scandals in the mayor's office and council are undermining the city's reputation and independence from Congress, observers said.

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