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Gray, Norton Clash With Democratic Senators on D.C. Budget

When asked by CQ Roll Call about the approach, Gray said, “We’re trying to remain as lawful as we possibly can because we do not want to contaminate our own case by doing something that is unlawful.”

Norton said, “I think we have to leave everything open, but it’s one step at a time.”

The White House has signaled it would block the funding bill as part of its opposition to the GOP’s selective approach to reopening the government.

Norton said President Barack Obama’s “rigid, across-the-board veto” threat mindlessly captures local taxpayer dollars, and that her efforts to lobby on behalf of the bill have “fallen on deaf ears.”

She and other District leaders are offended by attempts to lump the city in with federal agencies and saying its being treated like “hapless collateral damage.”

On day four of the shutdown, the mayor’s office announced that the Department of Public Works would begin emptying trash cans at some of the local national parks that closed Oct. 1, but hadn’t been barricaded by the National Park Service. Gray deemed it imperative that the city step in because the federal government couldn’t “step up” to tackle garbage piles that could attract rats and other rodents.

The city pays those employees through the use of contingency funds. Officials are currently considering the use of all of D.C.’s reserve funds, a total of $658 million, according to the office of Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi. The roughly 32,000-person workforce has a $98-million bi-weekly payroll.

This is the longest shutdown the city has ever faced. In 1995, the District shut down for five days. After recognizing the potential disaster, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., helped pass legislation that largely spared the city from the subsequent 21-day shutdown that stretched into January 1996.

Norton worked on that agreement and has tried to craft a similar solution this time around, but her efforts have been fruitless.

The Democratic opposition seems especially hypocritical to Gray, after hearing many lawmakers come out in support of budget autonomy and D.C. statehood this summer.

Reid and other leading Democrats expressed support for District statehood during a June 19 unveiling of the Frederick Douglass statue in the Capitol Visitor Center.

“Now is an opportunity to demonstrate that we can function like a state,” Gray said.

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