Norton expressed skepticism about the constitutional and legal standing of a referendum on D.C. budget autonomy, but she is holding off on commenting until receiving clarity from the House’s and Senate’s parliamentary offices.
Fiscal 2015 would likely begin on July 1, 2014, speculated D.C. Council Budget Director Jennifer Budoff. She emphasized that the city had plenty of time for planning and preparations and that the budget would still be subject to “strong fiscal management” under budget autonomy, including a prohibition on deficit spending, limits on borrowing and a mandate that the budget be balanced.
Budoff also hopes “legal issues” will be worked out before the city proceeds.
But potential congressional actions are hard to predict.
“We do not speculate on potential future actions by the committee or by Congress,” said Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Republicans.
DC Appleseed Executive Director Walter Smith, a legal architect of the referendum, said it would be “kind of hard to see how there could be a penalty on the District because it enforces the law ... but that doesn’t mean that Congress couldn’t find some kind of way later to undo the legislation.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.