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Obama Is the Source of the Problem in D.C. Funding Fight, Norton Says

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Serrano, above, was honored by Norton and DC Vote for his commitment to the District, even as the two lawmakers discussed his vote against the House’s short-term D.C. funding bill.

Though he has advocated on behalf of District autonomy throughout his 23 years in Congress, Serrano continues to categorize the miniature funding bill as “a sham” being used by Republicans to provide political cover for failing to pass a clean continuing resolution.

Rejection of the bill was cast as a “deeply cynical maneuver” by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who has worked with District leaders on D.C. budget autonomy issues.

In his single political quip of the night, Serrano warned the audience at the gala to beware of the Republicans who normally turn a cold shoulder to the District, who are “using certain situations to claim that they [are] friends.”

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., both supported the funding measure. They’ve also backed an Appropriations Committee report that referred to D.C.’s budget autonomy referendum — an effort District officials have worked hard to pass into law — as “an expression of the opinion of the residents, only, and without any authority to change or alter the existing relationship between federal appropriations and the District.”

Norton sees no point in spurning the newfound Republican support. “Sure, it’s for their convenience,” she said. “What difference should that make?”

The District Democrat rejected any notion that she was mad at the members of her party who were standing in the way of the bill and has vowed to keep fighting.

Laughter rang through the ballroom when Serrano cracked a joke about that fighting spirit. Norton is a “classic noodge,” he said, drawing on some of the Yiddish vocabulary he has picked up from his Bronx district. “Everything that comes out of this woman’s mouth is on behalf of Washington, D.C.”

Norton said the opposition is not frustrating, “it’s energizing,” and it encourages her to keep reminding her friends that they need to make the distinction between D.C.’s local funds and federal appropriations.

“I know who my friends are,” she said. “My friends are the very people who voted against me last week, but they are the best friends we’ve got.”

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