Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton to Continue to Defend Budget Autonomy Referendum, Following GAO Opinion

Jan 30, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) opinion today that says the District of Columbia’s budget autonomy referendum, approved by D.C. voters last April, has no legal effect, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that she will continue to defend the referendum from congressional interference.

“Notwithstanding legal and political questions that have been raised, I will continue to work to head off any congressional efforts to block or overturn the referendum or to penalize the District for pursuing the referendum,” said Norton.  “While GAO opinions are certainly well respected in Congress, they have no legal effect.  What is most clear is the need, desire and momentum for congressional action for full budget autonomy.”

Because bipartisan support and momentum for D.C. budget autonomy grew in 2013, Norton believes full budget autonomy for the District is possible this year.  The fiscal year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill, passed earlier this month, contains a historic and unprecedented D.C. shutdown-avoidance provision, allowing the city to spend its local funds and remain open in the event of a federal government shutdown in fiscal year 2015.  The provision, for the first time ever, guarantees that D.C. will avoid a local government shutdown for an entire fiscal year.  In addition, no action was taken in the bill to overturn the budget autonomy referendum approved by D.C. voters.  In fiscal year 2014, the president, for the first time in an administration’s budget, included a legislative provision for budget autonomy.  The Senate Appropriations Committee then included the president’s budget autonomy provision in its committee-passed fiscal year 2014 D.C. Appropriations bill.  Last year, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) bill that has major elements of budget autonomy.  He and Norton are working to perfect final language.  In addition, House Republicans, in passing a bill to keep D.C. open during the 2013 federal government shutdown, made strong arguments that the city should be able to spend its own money and not face shutdowns.

Published: January 30, 2014