Federal funding has been secured in the House D.C. Appropriations bills for the popular tuition aid program that helps thousands of D.C. residents attend college.
Despite being eliminated in the president’s proposed budget, congressional negotiations have protected the funding for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG).
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton reported that she has helped preserve $30 million in the 2019 District of Columbia Appropriations bill, which is still in markup in a House subcommittee.
Norton said she expects to secure $40 million in funding for DCTAG in the final bill as she has done in previous years when congressional tensions threatened funding for the program.
“With our students in colleges across the nation, protecting DCTAG funding is always my first priority, and I fully expected to get the full $40 million in the final spending bill,” Norton said in a statement.
In the past, Congress has attacked funding for DCTAG, however, $40 million has been appropriated to the program for the past three fiscal years. Norton said showing other House members the success and value of the program to D.C. families and students has been key to preserving the program’s funding.
But the same bill also contains five budget riders, or amendments, included in the current year’s appropriations bill to prevent full implementation of local D.C. laws.
The current bill has stipulations that prohibit and prevent the District government from implementing its legalized medical suicide assistance, funding abortions for low-income residents, protecting employees discriminated against based on their reproductive choices and commercializing the city’s marijuana industry.
“Although Republicans are getting started early this year on attacking D.C.’s local laws, we got our home-rule coalition started even earlier in helping to stake out our defense,” Norton said. “We expect to have the same success we had last year, working with the Senate, to remove most of these undemocratic riders.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and a coalition of over a dozen organizations rallied last month to fight the riders and tell the federal government to keep their hands off D.C. laws.
“We want Congress to keep their hands off the things that matter to our residents,” Bowser said. “Congress cannot interfere in locally approved laws in D.C.”
The bill also includes a provision to exempt the District from a shutdown and $5 million to combat HIV/AIDS. Norton said she is also working to restore $14 million for the D.C. Water to continue its work to control flooding in the city and clean up the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and Rock Creek.