The full Council voted on October 2, 2012 to hold a referendum to amend the District of Columbia's charter to authorize budget autonomy (i.e. remove Congress from having to approve how District tax funds are spent). This "strategy" was "masterminded" by D.C. Vote and the D.C. Appleseed Center, neither of which really supports statehood. What this referendum would do is ask for District voters' support for an interim colonial measure, the passage of which would take as much effort as getting statehood. Statehood would give us ALL our rights to self-government, including legislative and budget autonomy, permanently. This alternative method of amending the charter, the legality of which even our current Attorney General has questioned, would not prevent Congress from meddling in District budgetary affairs whenever it wanted, if Congress so decided. In addition, as it did in 1874, Congress could always decide to totally revoke our limited local "home rule" government. Only statehood is permanent. Why are we wasting our time and diluting our message on these legislative deadends?!
On January 4, 2013, D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan sent a letter to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics saying that he had "serious reservations about the legality" of trying to amend the Congressional budgetary oversight provisions of D.C. Home Rule Charter by referendum. At a hearing before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on January 7, 2013, he asked the Board to reject the referendum as a ballot question. On January 8, 2013, the Board disagreed and unanimously voted to include the referendum on the April 23, 2013 special election ballot. The voters approved the referendum (46,608 votes in favor of the charter amendment versus 7,396 against and 3,033 not voting). Only 11% of the registered voters voted in the election (and only 9% of registered voters approved the charter amendment).
The Mayor and the President have asked Congress to pass separate legislation granting the District budget autonomy regarding locally raised tax monies. Unlike the charter amendment, this would clearly be constitutional and within Congress's authority. However, Congress would still retain the power to revoke such authority at any time, unless the District (minus the Federal core) became a state. For more on this issue, enter "budget autonomy" in search box above.