Obama budget to support D.C. spending autonomy

Obama budget to support D.C. spending autonomy

By Tom Howell Jr.

The Washington Times

Friday, February 10, 2012

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif ., right, talks with Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, left, and City Council Chairman Kwame Brown, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 12, 2011, prior to the start of a House Health Care, DC, Census, and the National Archives subcommittee hearing on the city’s budget. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

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The Obama administration supports legislation that would allow the District to spend its local funds without waiting for Congress to approve its own spending priorities, according to the office of Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

Mr. Gray said Friday the president’s budget for fiscal year 2013 has a provision that requests budget autonomy for the District, an important goal of his office and the D.C. Council. They say the city should have its own say over local revenues and not be tied to the federal fiscal year from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, which awkwardly splits up the school year.

Mr. Gray, council Chairman Kwame R. Brown and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting member of Congress, plan to announce their support for Obama’s proposal on Monday morning in front of the John A. Wilson Building.

City officials have been working with Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, who vowed to pass a D.C. budget autonomy bill through his role as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The city rejected an initial proposal from Mr. Issa because it included a permanent ban on locally funded abortions.

Obama’s budget notes that federal payments to the city are "separate from and in addition to the District’s local budget, which is funded through local revenues."

"Consistent with the principle of home rule," it says, "it is the Administration’s view that the District’s local budget should be authorized to take effect without a separate annual Federal appropriations bill.

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