Norton Calls for Action by Outraged City on Sellout of D.C. Home Rule, And Warns City's Rights Still on the Auction Block As Negotiations Continue
April 9, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today called for action by the city's elected leaders and residents after the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats unnecessarily allowed the District's home- rule rights to be sacrificed in the fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill, agreed to last night. She marched in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade this morning, relieved that the federal and D.C. governments were not shut down, but dismayed that the District, which has no vote on the budget deal, had to pay the price. She warned that, "The District is still on the auction block during the final negotiations over the budget bill because Republicans want a ban on the use of D.C. local funds for needle-exchange programs in the package, which would guarantee the spread of HIV/AIDS among our citizens." Norton has already spoken with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and is awaiting a return of her call to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The budget deal that was announced early Saturday prohibits the District from spending its own local taxpayer-raised funds on abortions for low-income women and funds D.C. private school vouchers, Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) pet project. Norton learned of this latest attack on the District from media reports, and, before her phone call to Daley today, had not received a call from either the Administration or Senate Democrats to explain why they felt they had to throw the District under the bus. She had repeatedly warned the Administration and Senate Democrats that if any D.C. riders were included in the final package, it would be very difficult to remove them during this Congress, and that their inclusion would only encourage House Republicans to escalate their attacks on the District. Her statement follows.
"We knew that the House Republicans were on the attack when they took our vote in the Committee of the Whole on the first day of this Congress. What we did not anticipate was that the Administration and Senate Democrats would roll over and use our right to self-govern as a bargaining chip. Perhaps the budget deal should not surprise us, since the Administration and Senate Democrats did not lift a finger to pass my legislation to keep the District of Columbia open in the event of a federal government shutdown. This city's local funds should never have been in a fight over the federal budget. The city, whose local budget was passed by the Council last spring and by congressional committees last summer, had to spend the week preparing to shut down because it cannot spend its local funds without congressional approval.
"This morning, District residents learned that the Administration and Senate Democrats were willing to let the House Republicans treat them as second-class citizens. I am relieved that the bill did not include the national policy riders I abhorred, such as prohibiting federal funding for organizations that provide abortions. However, this entire city of 600,000 taxpaying Americans has every reason to be angry that the Administration and Senate Democrats did not draw a similar line in the sand that stopped at the District, and the self-governing rights of its citizens. As with the one-week continuing resolution the House Republicans passed on Thursday, it appears that District residents and detainees at Guantanamo Bay were the only groups singled out in the bill, and the symbolism of the pairing and the contempt it shows for our city is not lost on our residents. There is no time to waste. The House Republicans have sinister plans, some they have already announced to further diminish our rights. Only vigorous, determined action by the city's elected leaders and residents alike can save the District's home rule from being trampled by the House Republicans, who have shown that they will stop at nothing to undo all the victories we achieved over the last four years."