|Norton, DC and National Allies Successful in Fending Off DC Riders in First Test, DCTAG Preserved|
Norton, D.C. and National Allies Successful in Fending Off New D.C. Riders in First Appropriations Test, DCTAG Preserved
June 15, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that the recent protests and arrests of D.C. residents and elected officials over the fiscal year 2011 spending bill, as well as the proactive efforts recently announced by more than 100 local and national groups at a press conference with Norton and Mayor Vincent Gray, have helped to prevent new anti-home-rule riders from being added to the fiscal year 2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, introduced in the House today by Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO). Nevertheless, the bill continues to prohibit the District from spending its own local funds for abortions for low-income women. Norton said that she will insist that the Senate and administration restore the status quo of the last four years of Democratic control of Congress, when she got all riders removed. While the bill substantially cuts federal funding for all programs and entities, including D.C., it respects Norton's top funding priorities and does not include Representative Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposal to means test the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program (DCTAG) in order to pay for a new private school voucher program Congress imposed on the District in the fiscal year 2011 spending bill.
Norton cautioned, "The introduction of the bill is only the first step in a long appropriations process, and action by the new national coalition is essential as the bill goes to committee and to the floor. Still, it is gratifying to see an impact from recent actions by D.C. residents and elected officials and the announcement by the newly formed coalition of national organizations that are activating their members, who are constituents of members of the House and Senate, to defend the District's home rule. These organizations will be exposing actions by Members who try to dictate how residents of our district spend their own local funds instead of devoting their energy to their own districts and constituents. We are deeply disappointed that the bill retains the 2011 abortion rider, and we will insist that the Senate and the administration oppose it, but we thank Chairwoman Emerson, who has never led the charge to undermine the District's home rule, that the other old riders are not in the bill. We especially appreciate that Chairwoman Emerson rejected means-testing DCTAG, which would destroy the program, punish D.C. students who are in college now and those preparing to go in September, and hurt D.C.'s economy. "
Norton said that the biggest disappointment was the failure of the subcommittee to fund its part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters construction at the St. Elizabeths site in Ward 8. However, Norton said that this was not unexpected, particularly after the DHS appropriations bill did not fund its part of the project. Norton said that construction will continue at the site because the current construction of the Coast Guard building is already funded. Norton has already briefed the Senate and hopes to restore the DHS headquarters funding there.
Norton warned residents that House Republicans will have three more chances to add riders to the bill, beginning on Thursday, when the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will markup the bill. Norton has begun to work with her allies in the Senate and the administration to keep the final appropriations bill free of all anti-home-rule riders.
Although the bill would cut $62 million from the fiscal year 2011 level for the District and $80 million from the President's fiscal year 2012 request, Norton's top priorities were spared from significant cuts. Funding for DCTAG would be cut by only $5 million from the president's fiscal year 2012 request of $35 million, but the program has unexpended funds from prior years, so students should not be affected by the cut. The Major General David F. Wherley, Jr. District of Columbia National Guard Retention and College Access Program would receive $375,000, the same amount it received in fiscal year 2011. Funds for school improvement would be reduced from $77.5 million in fiscal year 2011 to $60 million, with the fiscal year 2012 funds equally divided among D.C. public schools, D.C. public charter schools, and the D.C. voucher program. DC Water would not receive any funding, while it received $11.5 million in fiscal year 2011 for the implementation of its Combined Sewer Overflow Long-Term Plan. Funding for the D.C. Courts would be reduced from $243 million in fiscal year 2011 to $224 million, but most of the cut would be from capital funds. Norton said she will work with her colleagues in the Senate to fund the President's fiscal year 2012 request for $2.5 million for the Community College of the District of Columbia and for $5 million for HIV/AIDS prevention, which she requested.