Washington mayor calls for shutdown meeting with Obama

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“Time is running out — and, soon, I will have exhausted every resource available to me to protect our residents, our workers, and our visitors,” he said in a letter sent to Obama and congressional leaders. 

In the first eight days of the shutdown, the district has been able to use reserve funds to keep operations open. But Gray said that would soon be depleted, ticking off a host of projects that are in danger of missing payments. 

Earlier reports found that the district could continue operating by reserve funds until Oct. 13. In his letter Tuesday, Gray did not specify when the funds would run out.

Gray said during the 1996 shutdown, which lasted 21 days, Congress agreed to allow the district to spend its money to keep operations open after the first week.  

Gray previously determined that all district employees are essential, and he has been paying them with contingency funds. But because the Washington budget is ultimately under the control of Congress, the district has not been able to access its own tax revenue. 

Gray said the district has already had to delay payments to Medicaid providers. And he said the newly created health insurance exchanges in D.C. could be confronted with closure. 

As part of the House GOP’s attempt to put pressure on the Senate, it passed a bill to last week to fund the district. But Democrats have balked at the Republican plan to pass mini-funding bills for certain portions of the government, and the measure has not been approved by the Senate. 

Gray used the issue to continue to call for budget autonomy from Congress.

“This is simply unconscionable,” he said. “And it is long past time for the District’s budget to be decoupled from the federal budget.”