Gray Denonces House Bill to Avert Shutdown

WI Web Staff Report | 12/18/2011, 9:08 a.m.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray has denounced the House of Representatives' decision to avert a shutdown by passing a budget bill that violates the District's autonomy.

The bill that passed the House late last week and is poised to pass the Senate extends federal spending past midnight tonight, averting a situation that would have caused the federal and District governments to cease all but essential operations.

But - as in a similar budget deal passed in April - the legislation again includes a "rider" provision that would prevent the District government from expending its own taxpayer funds on reproductive services for low-income women.

"For the second time this year, Congress has avoided a budget disaster by using the District's autonomy as a bargaining chip," Mayor Gray said. "As in the April spending deal, this legislation also bars us from spending our own local revenues, paid by our own residents, on reproductive services for women who otherwise would not be able to afford them."

Gray continued: "It is outrageous that a Congress whose members would never allow such an imposition on the democratic authority of their own home states would so blithely violate the rights of the 600,000 people who call the nation's capital home. The repeated willingness of congressional majorities to use the District as a social laboratory for their pet causes cannot be allowed to continue standing. The District deserves budget autonomy now, and all Americans who care about democracy should demand it from their members of Congress."