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Mendelson, DeWitt Caught Up in Budget Battle

The chairman of the D.C. Council and the District’s financial chief are at odds over the recently passed city budget.

On May 28, the council passed on second and final reading the $15.6 billion fiscal 2020 budget that included a provision that diverts money from repaying city debts for the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to funding public housing repairs and eliminating a need for a hotel tax favored by Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) led the effort to divert the money despite the strong public protest of Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt.

As a result, DeWitt told council members on June 10 the budget won’t be certified with the provision in it. Under District law, DeWitt must certify the budget before it moves to Bowser and the U.S. Congress for approval and review, respectively.

A Mendelson spokeswoman said her boss, DeWitt and the District’s budget office are engaged in talks that aim to resolve the matter. The council has been briefed and kept informed on developments.

“Hopefully, this can be resolved by [June 18],” she said.

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