Congress Grants D.C. Temporary Spending Authority

Gray and Norton's Persistence Pays Off

Barrington M. Salmon | 10/23/2013, 3 p.m.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, accompanied by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and others, makes his case for fiscal autonomy on Capitol Hill during the recent 16-day federal government shutdown. Gray and Norton were able to extract a one-year deal from Congress. Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

Norton praised Gray and the council for their “unprecedented innovation.”

“The country and the federal government owe you its gratitude for not allowing its capital city to be paralyzed by the current national farce that has shut down much of the national government,” she said. “Its victims are scattered across the 50 states and territories, safely out of view from the perpetrators of the crisis. The Congress and the administration, however, cannot escape the crisis that is quickly enveloping their capital city and becoming our worst nightmare.”

Unfortunately, both parties are guilty of using the District as a political football, Thies said.

“It’s more complicated for Democrats. There have been times when Democrats controlled both houses and we didn’t get statehood,” said Thies, referring to the District’s unstinting Democratic loyalty. “Republicans are primarily concerned that if D.C. was granted statehood, there would be two permanent Democratic Senate seats and a Senator Marion Barry is a nightmare scenario for them.”

“If it mattered, it [statehood] would have been [granted] a long time ago.”

Thies said D.C. residents should enjoy the respite because Congress giveth and Congress taketh away.

“It’s a temporary step in that direction and paves the way toward the right direction.You get a little bit of rights and want more. For D.C., it’s like ‘so why can’t we spend our money for a year? Why not 10?’ But I don’t see that happening,” he said.