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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

D.C. takes major steps toward budget autonomy

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who has served as the District’s representative in Congress since 1991, has celebrated multiple moves by the federal government to grant the city budget autonomy. Hatchet File Photo

A Senate committee signed off on a bill Thursday freeing up the District’s tax dollars without congressional approval – the latest legal success that could allow for greater budget autonomy.

While the measure clashes with a spending bill in the House of Representatives, it comes days after Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. introduced a separate bill Tuesday to amend the D.C. Home Rule Act and allow the city to spend funds without congressional approval.

D.C. has historically aligned its fiscal year with the federal government’s on Oct. 1, but most states begin July 1 to allow for school budget use.

“The District has now moved closer to budget autonomy than ever in its history,” Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said of the Senate bill in a statement Friday. She is the District’s lone, nonvoting representative in Congress.

The city’s budget autonomy referendum, which was approved in April, will also go into effect next year after Congress allowed the legislative review period to expire this week.

Congress could pass a law nullifying the referendum retrospectively, but the Post reported President Barack Obama and the Democrat-lead Senate are unlikely to support such action.

The House bill, which a committee advanced last week, also cuts federal funding for D.C. by 6 percent. The other chamber’s proposal slightly increased funding, which makes up about 2 percent of the District’s budget and mostly pays for its court system.

The Senate committee measure would also end a restriction on D.C. from spending taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions for low-income women, but the House bill leaves the ban intact.

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