House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pledged support for District of Columbia autonomy Friday, as House and Senate lawmakers negotiate a policy rider targeting legalized marijuana in the District. But she was reluctant to say that including the amendment in a year-end spending bill would be a deal breaker for Democrats.
"I have expressed concerns about treating the District of Columbia in a fair way, respecting home rule," said Pelosi said during a press conference.
"I'm not saying any one of them is a deal breaker, but I'm saying this is an array of concerns that we have: clean air, good food standards, workplace safety, fairness to the District of Columbia, how the top line dollar is allocated within the legislation," Pelosi said.
The chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees have been negotiating the spending package and an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris, D-Md., targeting marijuana legalization in the District was on the table. The Harris amendment blocks federal and local funds from being used to legalize or reduce penalties for marijuana possession, use and distribution. In November, D.C. voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum to legalize small amounts of the drug.
House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., is pushing for the Harris amendment to be attached to the appropriations bill. The amendment was included in the spending bill that passed the House in June, but was not included in the Senate version. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., is a staunch opponent of the amendment.
Pelosi also said she is confident that House Appropriations ranking member Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., is an effective advocate for Democratic positions.
"And as I said yesterday, I have confidence in our ranking member, Nita Lowey, in the negotiations," Pelosi said. "She brings the values of our caucus to the table."
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