WASHINGTON – Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced today that District officials were close to finalizing a plan for how the city’s services would function in the event that Congress does not reach a resolution to fund the federal government by a March 4 deadline.
“We regret that we even have to consider the possibility that the District of Columbia would fall victim to a partisan standoff on Capitol Hill,” said Mayor Gray. “But the office of City Administrator Allen Lew is working assiduously to determine what city functions we would legally be able to continue if congressional stalemate results not only in a federal shutdown, but the D.C. government not being allowed to spend our own money.”
The District government cannot, technically, spend funds absent a congressional appropriation – even though the vast majority of the District’s functions are funded by the city’s own taxpayers rather than by federal subsidies.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton attempted to get a House vote on a provision that would allow the D.C. government to spend its own local funds for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The attempt failed in the House Rules Committee Monday night.
Mayor Gray said the situation underlines the his strong view that the District of Columbia needs full budget autonomy – because it’s inappropriate for the D.C. government to be treated, in budget matters, like another federal agency.
Members of City Administrator Allen Lew’s staff are examining what D.C. services would be eligible, under the law, to continue operating during a federal shutdown. Once the list is final, it will be made public via the District’s website www.dc.gov and the 311 non-emergency phone line.
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