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WASHINGTON, D.C.—After a contentious 14-hour public hearing that brought out hundreds of supporters and protesters, and generated thousands of emails, the City Council of the District of Columbia has decided not to hold a vote on the “Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019,” Bill No. 23-0318, which would have legalized consensual sex work for adults in the District.

“We always knew this would be an uphill battle,” Independent council member David Grosso, who wrote the bill in collaboration with a coalition of D.C. sex workers, told The Washington Post, which has opposed the bill editorially. “I think it could happen in the future. … I think we should bring it to the ballot box.”

Council member Charles Allen, chair of the council committee which heard the voluminous testimony on October 17, made the decision not to bring the bill before the full City Council because, he said, “the proposal probably lacked the support needed to survive a committee vote.”

And indeed, several council members had expressed early opposition to the measure, with council Chair Phil Mendelson even going so far, according to Grosso, as to stack certain council committees with conservative members whom he expected to vote down or sidetrack progressive legislation such as the decriminalization bill.