Jul 20, 2022 - Politics

Town Talker: Meet D.C.’s new worst foe in Congress

Andrew Clyde laces combat boots on steps of U.S. Capitol
Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Andrew Clyde, a Republican junior member of Congress from Georgia, is now D.C.’s biggest nemesis on the Hill.

Why it matters: Republicans winning control of Congress could bring back the dark ages for local D.C. power — right as Muriel Bowser will be sworn in for a third mayoral term.

  • Clyde has floated banning abortion, bringing red state-style gun laws, and abolishing the mayor’s office in the deep blue city.

Catch-up quick: Clyde, 58, is a Navy veteran who occasionally dons combat boots on the Hill. The businessman entered politics after the IRS seized $940,000 from his gun shop in 2013, setting him on the path to advocating for reforms of civil asset forfeiture.

  • He won his seat in 2020 and hangs with the hardline House Freedom Caucus. After the Jan. 6 riot, he notably declared that the footage looked like “a normal tourist visit.”

What he's saying: The nation’s capital, Clyde told Axios on Monday at the Capitol, is a “disgrace for our country.”

  • “There’s crime that’s almost out of control in the city,” he says. “Look at the landscaping on Capitol Hill. It’s gorgeous.” The rest of the city? “Terrible.”

His remedy? A congressional takeover. Clyde has said he's drafting legislation to repeal the Home Rule Act, the 1973 law that enshrined local autonomy for D.C.

  • Is he ready to become the city’s public enemy no. 1? “I don’t think we go to war at all,” he told Axios. The veteran expects Washingtonians to welcome the power grab with open arms. “These are issues we can all agree on,” he says. “Let’s make our city safe again.”

Threat level: In addition to an abortion ban, Clyde said he wants to institute a law allowing D.C. residents to carry handguns without a permit.

“There’s a lot of things on the table,” Clyde told Axios, adding, “I can tell you that, an office of mayor, OK, isn’t in the Constitution.” Abolish the mayor’s office?

  • “We need to get back to an originalist interpretation of the Constitution,” he says. “Home rule isn’t that.”

But, but, but: Kentucky Rep. James Comer, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee that oversees D.C., said Clyde’s plans on home rule have not risen to leadership level.

  • “There have been no discussions committee-wide on this,” Comer told Axios. “This is an Andrew Clyde project that he feels very passionate about.”

The other side: Council member and constitutional law professor Mary Cheh, already heated in the middle of a hike in Virginia, said on the phone: “Obviously, he doesn’t know anything about the Constitution” which allows Congress to “exercise exclusive” power over the city’s affairs but doesn’t preclude it from delegating power to a local government.

  • Still, that means Congress could repeal the Home Rule Act, as Clyde has proposed.

Mayor Bowser’s office said in a statement that Clyde “represents neither the people nor the values of Washington, D.C.”

💬 If he wants to run D.C., I say Clyde should run for mayor instead! Town Talker is a weekly column on local politics and power. Send me hot tips: [email protected]

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