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Diversity, equity official to leave GW in July
By Jenna Lee, Assistant News Editor • June 8, 2024

Advocacy group pushes for implementation of law granting D.C. budget autonomy

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rachael Gerendasy

A home-rule advocacy group has made a New Years resolution for D.C.: implement a new law that gives the city the power to spend local tax money without permission from Congress.

D.C. Vote, an organization that has also long decried the District’s lack of a vote in Congress, is championing the law that went into effect Jan. 1. More than 80 percent of D.C. voters backed a referendum for autonomy in April, which gives the mayor control over nearly three-quarters of the city’s budget.

Kimberly Perry, the executive director of D.C. Vote, said the law would shrink the time it takes the city to wrap up the budget process. Congressional approval now take months.

“Before yesterday, the District’s budget was treated like a federal agency. It needed to go through the financial services committee before it could be approved. What our new law does is separate us from that process,” she said.

Mayor Vincent Gray turned to the city’s contingency fund in October when the federal government shut down, trapping D.C. in the partisan gridlock. Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for Gray, said the mayor was looking forward to implementing the law because it would help move residents toward “full democracy.”

“Mayor Gray supported and signed the budget autonomy legislation to advance the District’s independence and right to spend its own funds without interference,” she said.

The law is currently under review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Perry said, since members of Congress, particularly House Republicans, and D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan have questioned the legislation’s validity. Nathan’s office declined a request to comment.

A Washington Post report called the review “high stakes,” saying that budget autonomy remains “in limbo” until it concludes.

Perry said the Government Accountability Office estimates it will make a decision by February.

Congress had 35 days to overturn the bill in the spring, but never took action.

“To date, there have been no challenges or disapprovals,” Perry said. “But there is always going to be something Congress could do. If something comes forward, which we don’t believe will, we will be ready. Anyone in Congress could question it or challenge it. We want to move forward.”

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. said in a release in April that she plans to stop any congressional efforts to block the referendum.

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