Giving momentum to the growing movement for D.C. budget autonomy, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has signaled his support for the idea.
In a letter dated Feb. 9 obtained by Roll Call this evening, McDonnell wrote to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) endorsing legislation that would delink D.C.’s budget from the Congressional appropriations process.
“As a follow up to our conversations, I am writing to offer my support for Chairman Issa’s initiative to give the District of Columbia certain budget autonomy over its own budget,” McDonnell wrote. “It’s what the governors of every state enjoy.”
Issa, whose committee oversees D.C. affairs, introduced a bill that would do just that late last year. To win Republican votes, however, he included language that would also bar local funds for abortions in the District.
A social conservative who opposes abortion rights, McDonnell was careful to note in his letter that “under [Issa’s] proposal, the city would be able to spend its own money ... subject to Congressional restrictions placed the previous years (such as tax payer funding for abortion).” District residents, while benefiting from setting their own budget, would still be subject to policy riders in Congressional appropriations measures.
Gray was copied onto McDonnell’s letter, but Norton’s office said today that it was unaware of the letter prior to media inquiries.
Spokesmen for Gray, Cantor and McDonnell could not immediately respond to requests for comment on the context in which the letter was written — or whether Cantor’s inclusion in the letter meant House Republican leadership could be on board with budget autonomy for D.C.
A spokesman for Issa confirmed to Roll Call that Issa and McDonnell had previously talked about this issue, as the letter suggests, but did not clarify who approached whom.
Advocates for D.C. statehood and greater autonomy argue that Congress should take greater steps to give the District more opportunities to make its own rules, and a perfect next step, they argue, would be allowing it to set its own budget and spend its own money on its own schedule.
Although it might not seem obvious why a Virginia public official would weigh in on D.C. affairs, McDonnell says in his letter that D.C. budget autonomy is “in both Virginia’s and Maryland’s best interest.”
From left, Lisa Peng, daughter of Peng Ming, Grace Ge Geng, daughter of Gao Zhisheng, and Ti-Anna Wang, daughter of Wang Bingzhang, hold pictures of their imprisoned fathers during a House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building titled “Their Daughters Appeal to Beijing: ‘Let Our Fathers Go!’”
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.