Norton, Gray, Brown on Legislation Offering Partial Budget Autonomy

WI Web Staff Report | 11/16/2011, 3:35 p.m.
Mayor Vincent Gray joined forces with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes and Council Chairman Kwame Brown over proposal to give D.C. partial budget autonomy./Courtesy Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Vincent Gray and City Council Chairman Kwame Brown released the following statement Nov. 16 regarding House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) proposal to give the District more authority over its local budget:

"We appreciate House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's commitment at a May hearing on the District of Columbia's budget to work with us on legislation to give the District more control over its local budget, and we particularly appreciate that he followed through with a proposed bill.

"Chairman Issa's commitment, and the bill he presented to us on Monday morning, followed testimony from majority and minority hearing witnesses that was complimentary of the state of D.C.'s budget and finances, and in support of greater budget autonomy for the city. The provisions in the Issa bill to allow the District to use a July fiscal year, to allow its budget to take effect without congressional approval, and to avoid District government shutdowns over unrelated federal spending fights demonstrated that the chairman had taken our priorities into account.

"We also appreciate our meetings and how the Issa bill responds to many of our views on what would be necessary to make the chairman's ideas operational.

Particularly considering the many good provisions in Chairman Issa's bill, we regret that we cannot accept it, and would have to strongly oppose it if it were introduced. We recognize that the abortion provision is what Chairman Issa believed would be necessary to get the bill passed in the House. But the views of others should not prevail over the views of our own residents.

"Our opposition to the provision to permanently prohibit the District from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women is as strong as the views of those outside our city who support it. Moreover, we believe the Issa bill, like most legislation affecting the District, may have faced additional or similar provisions as it moved through the House and Senate.

"Despite our opposition to the abortion provision, we believe that the Issa bill demonstrated a good-faith effort that addressed many of our concerns, and deserved the careful investigation and due diligence we tried to give it, even considering the time constraints.

"We hope the Issa proposal represents a continuation of a conversation he started at the hearing in May, not an end, and will serve as a model for how Congress can work collaboratively with the city."