The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that Norton is taking several actions this week to try to prevent a District of Columbia government shutdown at the end of the month, including today introducing the District of Columbia Government Shutdown Avoidance Act of 2013. Norton is taking action now because Tea Party Republicans are threatening to block a new spending bill when the current bill expires on September 30 unless the new bill defunds Obamacare, which could lead to a shutdown of both the federal and District governments, and because the House is scheduled to be in session for only seven days before September 30.
Norton's District of Columbia Government Shutdown Avoidance Act of 2013 would permanently authorize the District government to spend its local funds in the event of a federal government shutdown and therefore the D.C. government would never face a shutdown threat again. Norton also will offer an amendment to and testify at the Rules Committee markup of the fiscal year 2014 short-term continuing resolution (CR), expected as early as Thursday, to authorize the District government to spend its local funds for all of fiscal year 2014, and not just until the expiration of the CR (December 15, 2013), so that the city does not face a shutdown threat again when the CR expires in December.
"Even more irrational than a federal government shutdown would be a local D.C. government shutdown simply because Congress has failed to do its job and pass a balanced budget like the D.C. government has," Norton said. "The D.C. government has no involvement in Obamacare or any other issues related to the shutdown threat. There is bicameral, bipartisan support for preventing D.C. government shutdowns. The District government faced several shutdown threats last Congress. Now is the time for Congress to put an end to its practice of holding the District government hostage in federal spending fights. While we continue to work to defend the District's budget autonomy referendum from congressional interference, as well as to pass a budget autonomy bill in Congress, we need to address the time-sensitive issue of keeping the District government open if there is a federal government shutdown this month."
In July, both the Republican-led Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Democratic-led Senate Appropriations Committee approved larger bills that contained a provision that would permanently authorize the D.C. government to spend its local funds during a federal government shutdown. The President's fiscal year 2013 budget also contained the shutdown-avoidance provision. The report accompanying the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee-passed fiscal year 2013 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill also acknowledged the harm of District government shutdowns.
In case Norton is unsuccessful in the House, she has already been in touch with her Senate allies on possible ways to amend the CR or bring up her District of Columbia Government Shutdown Avoidance Act of 2013 in the Senate.