Residents of Washington protest the government shutdown’s effect on the District on Oct. 9.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton heaped praise on her Democratic allies in the Senate and some key Republicans Wednesday night for including a budget autonomy fix for Washington, D.C., in their spending deal.
Immediately after the House’s 285-144 vote on the short-term compromise, the D.C. Democrat thanked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for his “critical help” working out a deal that allows the District to spend its local funds and remain open for all of fiscal 2014 as part of the bill to reopen the federal government through Jan. 15, 2014.
But she said she spent the Columbus Day weekend in talks with members of President Barack Obama’s administration and her congressional friends, working “double-time” to avoid what she called a “half loaf” solution that would only allow the city to spend its local funds for the three-month duration of the continuing resolution.
“A boomerang solution putting D.C. back in the federal government’s fiscal mess in January was beyond unacceptable,” she said. “This authority to spend our local funds for the full fiscal year, although the federal government is open only through Jan. 15, 2014, is a historic first. But residents must see more than a reprieve from this year’s serial federal shutdown brinks. We must now make use of the damage done by moving on all fronts for full budget autonomy.”
Gray also weighed in shortly after the bill was sent to the president, thanking Norton and other congressional allies, including Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, for “recognizing the District’s unique plight and that it is completely unjust for the District to be barred from spending our own local revenues during a federal shutdown.”
The 16-day shutdown that began Oct. 1 put the city in unprecedented territory. During the 21-day shutdown in the winter of 1995 and 1996, Congress and President Bill Clinton worked out an agreement to allow D.C. to spend its own money to resume local operations and services after five days.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.