|Norton Alerts City to Possibility of D.C. Government Shutdown Next Week, and Introduces Bill to Keep D.C. Open|
September 21, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC -- Only five months after the District of Columbia government barely avoided a shutdown in fiscal year 2011 because of a federal spending fight, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today alerted residents that the odds of a D.C. government shutdown have increased in the last twenty-four hours because of yet another federal spending fight having nothing to do with the District. Norton therefore introduced today the District of Columbia Fiscal Year 2012 Local Funds Continuation Act, which would permit the D.C. government to remain open in the event of a federal government shutdown and spend its local funds for the rest of fiscal year 2012, a bill similar to one Norton introduced in fiscal year 2011.
Congress has yet to pass any of the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills, and with the federal fiscal year ending on September 30, the House and Senate have been working on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running in fiscal year 2012. However, the Senate and House may have reached an impasse on the CR over federal disaster aid funding. If the federal government shuts down on October 1, the D.C. government would shut down, too, because it cannot spend its own local funds without an Act of Congress. The approval for D.C. to spend its funds is contained in the CR.
“We still have more than a week before midnight September 30,” said Norton. “It would be an incredible folly of Republicans to court another shutdown out of a stingy, stubborn refusal to assist thousands of Americans caught in the multiple disasters that hurled across our country in 2011. But after the hairbreadth by which the District missed a shutdown in April, we cannot afford to put the city through the expense and effort of preparing for a possible shutdown again. We have no choice but to prepare.”
At the same time, Norton is working to ensure that even if the CR is passed, the D.C. government does not face another shutdown threat when the CR (and thus D.C.’s authority to spend its local funds) expires on November 18. Last week, Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL) offered, at Norton’s request, an amendment during a House Rules Committee meeting to allow the District to spend its own local funds for all of fiscal year 2012. Although Republicans defeated the amendment on a party-line vote, Norton has been in touch with the Senate Democratic leadership, asking that the Senate amend the House CR to give D.C. the authority to spend its local funds for all of fiscal year 2012, which president Obama included in his fiscal year 2012 CR request.