DC mayor pushes for budget autonomy

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He said that D.C. would benefit from being able to enact a budget, typically approved by the Council in June, right away rather than waiting for Congress to agree on annual appropriations bills, which this year came seven months after Sept. 30.

D.C. Council President Kwame Brown argued that Congress should pass legislation ensuring that D.C. does not face a funding shortfall in the event of a shutdown, and asked that D.C. be given a vote in the House of Representatives.

Subcommittee ranking member Danny Davis (D-Ill.) decried the fact that the District needs to run its budget by Congress.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), in a prepared statement, said the oversight hearing was unprecedented since the Appropriations Committee normally handles the D.C. budget alone. She decried the fact that the new Congress is interfering more in D.C. affairs.

She pointed out the 2011 spending-cut compromise, which in the end prevented D.C. from spending local funds on abortion.

“In fact, the House Republican majority has spent more time focusing on the local affairs of the District than at any time since the 1973 Home Rule Act,” Norton said. 

"The budget is never amended; we would not know how to amend it," Norton pointed out. "The budget is here for one purpose. The budget is here for riders. The budget is here for members from Arizona to get you to do what they do in Arizona."

Norton highlighted a rider that previously had banned needle exchanges in the District intended to reduce HIV.

Gray has presented Congress with a budget of $8.99 billion for fiscal 2012, representing a 1.9 percent increase in spending. The proposal includes an increase of 140 police officers in order to reopen the D.C. police academy.