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Bob McDonnell’s Backing Puts D.C. Autonomy on Front Burner

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Gov. Bob McDonnell (left) wrote in his letter that making D.C.’s budget independent from Congress’ appropriations schedule would ensure that local operations do not shut down in case federal funds are cut off.

In an interview with Roll Call on Thursday afternoon, Davis, now the director of federal government affairs for Deloitte & Touche LLP, said McDonnell’s interest was sparked by a series of conversations among relevant parties.

“Obviously I’ve had some input,” he said. “I’ve told him he’s certainly on the right side of this ... and that Virginia residents who work in the [District] are not advantaged when the city shuts down.”

Davis couldn’t comment on how House Republican leaders feel about unlinking D.C.’s budget from the Congressional appropriations process but said that in addition to Issa, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson is supportive.

The Missouri Republican would be another important ally: She is the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, into which D.C.’s yearly budget is folded.

“She is open to the concept depending on how it is implemented,” said Jeffrey Conner, Emerson’s spokesman.

McDonnell argues in his letter, as many have, that making D.C.’s budget independent from Congress’ appropriations schedule would ensure that local operations do not shut down in case the government cannot reach a spending agreement and federal funds are cut off.

“The District of Columbia is one of the three partnering jurisdictions in the National Capitol region,” McDonnell wrote. “When the city is unable to plan its future investments in infrastructure, it has an impact on the economic development dynamic for the entire region.”

A shutdown of the Metro system, for instance, would have affected more than 100,000 Virginians who commute into the District each day for work, he said.

Although Norton was not aware of the letter until it became public, Mayor Vincent Gray was copied onto the memo. He released a statement Wednesday night praising McDonnell’s position and recognizing its important role.

“I welcome [his] recognition that it’s only fair and makes sense for the District of Columbia to have budget autonomy and I thank him for his outreach to House leaders,” Gray said. “I am delighted that momentum is building toward the district achieving the autonomy it deserves.”

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