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Despite Setback, Budget Autonomy Picks Up Key Congressional Support

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Begich declared himself a “supporter of budget autonomy.”

One of the District’s greatest congressional allies, former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday and rallied support.

Begich convened the D.C.-focused subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to talk about the impacts of federal government shutdowns on the District, but Davis and other witnesses focused on the city’s need for budget autonomy.

Davis, who helped establish the D.C. Financial Control Board and pushed D.C. voting rights during his 14-year tenure in the House, testified that the city’s growing tax base, surplus of revenue and good credit record prove “the need for congressional micro-management is no longer present, as the city has shown itself to be a responsible steward of its own destiny.”

The city’s finances looked better than ever in fiscal 2013, with D.C.’s end-of-year surplus reaching a record $1.75 billion, according to D.C. Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt.

One effect of the District being subject to congressional approval of its local spending is that Republican lawmakers may set social policy via riders to spending legislation.

The practical effect of the referendum has yet to be seen, because Congress’ fiscal 2014 spending deal granted the District the ability to spend local funds through September 2015.

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