Debt-ceiling bill frees District of Columbia from new shutdown threats

The bill approved by Congress, however, says the District "may expend local funds" pursuant to Title IV of a House appropriations bill that never passed the House, H.R. 2786. Title IV of that bill deals only with District of Columbia funding.

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That language, found in Section 127 of the bill, effectively insulates the District from the threat of another shutdown in early 2014. Under the bill, the threat of another shutdown is there, as it only provides funding for discretionary federal programs through mid-January.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who pleaded with Congress several times on the House floor to spare the District from the shutdown, praised Congress for including the language.

"This authority to spend our local funds for the full fiscal year, although the federal government is open only through Jan. 15, 2014, is an historic first," she said Wednesday night.

"But residents must see more than a reprieve from this year's serial federal shutdown brinks. We must now make use of the damage done by moving on all fronts for full budget autonomy."

Norton said the language came after she had several "conversations at high levels of the administration, the Senate and the House." She also thanked President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) among others.

She also argued again that the District's budget should not be tied up by Congress at all, and noted that the language affecting D.C. spending was included in what she called an "obscure anomalies" section of the bill.

"That's what our city is, an aberration in a federal appropriations bill and by right has no place or business in the Congress of the United States at all," she said.