Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's (D-DC) work on multiple fronts to free the District of Columbia's local funds has led to victory with a Senate, House and administration agreement today to allow D.C. to spend its local funds and remain open for all of fiscal year 2014 (through September 30, 2014) as part of a bill to reopen the federal government through January 15, 2014. The bill, a continuing resolution (CR), has been passed by the Senate and the House, and is expected to be signed by the President. Over the holiday weekend, Norton had conversations at high levels of the administration, the Senate and the House. She said she is especially grateful for critical help from the President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). She also expressed her gratitude to Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) for spearheading the effort and working to achieve this breakthrough. Norton said she is also grateful to Mayor Gray for organizing citizens to put a D.C. face on this crisis last week, and D.C. Council members and citizens for coming out when we most needed the city on the Hill.
"I thank our friends in the administration, Senate and House who worked double-time with me as the end game approached to avoid a half loaf -- authorization to spend our local funds for only the three-month continuing resolution. A boomerang solution putting D.C. back in the federal government's fiscal mess in January was beyond unacceptable. This authority to spend our local funds for the full fiscal year, although the federal government is open only through January 15, 2014, is a historic first. But residents must see more than a reprieve from this year's serial federal shutdown brinks. We must now make use of the damage done by moving on all fronts for full budget autonomy."
Importantly, the District government is authorized to spend its local funds at the fiscal year 2014 level for the full fiscal year, while federal agencies are allowed to spend at fiscal year 2013 levels, and their authority to spend any funds expires when the CR expires (January 15, 2014). The District government's authority is included in an obscure "anomalies" section and "that is what our city is, an aberration in a federal appropriations bill and by right has no place or business in the Congress of the United States at all," said Norton.