(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today Mayor Vincent C. Gray, expressing frustration on behalf of District of Columbia residents, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) detailing the negative implications the pending federal shutdown would have on the city. He requested immediate relief from Congress.
In his letter, Mayor Gray says, “The District of Columbia is the only state, city or local government in the entire nation which will not be able to use the tax revenues paid by its own citizens to serve those very citizens during the federal shutdown. It is also the only jurisdiction in the country which has no representation in the process that led to this state of federal legislative paralysis or that will be needed to avert or minimize such a shutdown.”
Although such essential services as the Metropolitan Police Department and the city’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department will remain open during the shutdown, numerous other key District services will be interrupted. Mayor Gray states, “our citizens will be the only ones in the nation who will not have regular garbage collection and street sanitation, open libraries, operating recreation facilities and a functioning public university. Other essential, basic local services, such as health services, housing services, certain services to people with disabilities and consumer protection activities will be operating with skeletal staffs or only in response to emergencies. District residents will not be able to conduct something as routine and civic as renewing their driver’s licenses.”
With regard to a possible solution to the city’s problems related to the federal shutdown, Mayor Gray indicates, “This crisis for the District could have been averted if Congress had passed the bill offered by our non-voting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, which would have exempted all of our locally collected funds from the operation of the federal Anti-Deficiency Act. As you know, under that law as it currently stands, District government officials cannot expend any of our funds, including those the District collected from taxes imposed on its own citizens, without an appropriation from Congress. That is wrong. It is an insult to our hard-working citizens that the District government is treated like a federal agency. While that statute needs to be amended to solve long-term problems, in the short-term I am urging that prior to shutdown, Congress adopt a resolution permitting us, like every other local state and local jurisdiction, to spend our locally collected funds for services during the federal shutdown.”
Mayor Gray is seeking also to meet with Senator Reid and Representative Boehner today to personally discuss the District’s plight and to work out a possible resolution.