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Discord on budget autonomy, a clash over levels of federal funding and the long-standing fight about whether D.C. should be allowed to fund abortions for low-income women, will all have to be hammered out when District funding is reconciled.
In the meantime, supporters of abortion rights, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are celebrating. The ACLU released a statement calling the Senate panel’s vote on the bill “encouraging” for not including a provision banning D.C. from using local dollars to fund abortions for low-income women.
Republicans controlling the House Appropriations Committee rejected Democratic amendments to remove the restriction on abortion funding from their bill before approving the measure July 17.
The House and the Senate also disagree on overall federal funding levels.
The Senate’s version recommends nearly $675 million for fiscal 2014, meeting full budget requests for the city’s tuition assistance program and testing and treatment to combat D.C.’s “daunting HIV epidemic,” according to a committee report released with the bill. Requests for both programs were trimmed in half by the House panel.
The Senate also fulfills budget requests for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and its sewer construction program, which was zeroed out in the House’s $636 million District appropriation.
Norton said she “could not be more pleased” to see the Senate approve the necessary funding levels for District programs.
DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry called the Senate action “another positive step in our effort to secure greater self-governance,” and thanked President Barack Obama for including specific language granting the city greater budget control in his proposed budget.