Norton Announces Senate D.C. Appropriations Bill Contains No Anti-Home-Rule Riders, But Blocks D.C. Budget Autonomy for Fiscal Year 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved fiscal year 2017 District of Columbia Appropriations bill does not contain any anti-home-rule riders, exempts D.C. from a shutdown in fiscal year 2018, and provides funds for many of her legislative priorities. Norton said that the bill blocks the Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012 (BAA), the referendum overwhelmingly passed in 2013 by D.C. voters that granted the District budget autonomy, for fiscal year 2017 only by appropriating D.C.’s funds for fiscal year 2017. Unlike the House Appropriations Committee-passed D.C. appropriations bill, the Senate bill does not repeal the referendum. However, the Republican-led Senate Appropriations Committee expressed its view that the referendum is illegal, which is the first time the committee has taken a position on the issue. Norton said that she is very disappointed that the Senate bill provides only $30 million for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG), $10 million below the $40 million fiscal year 2016 enacted level, a record-breaking amount. However, Norton said that she believes she can restore DCTAG funding to $40 million in an omnibus spending bill at the end of the year, as she did last year after the Senate Appropriations Committee-passed fiscal year 2016 bill similarly provided only $30 million for DCTAG.
For the second straight year, the Senate D.C. appropriations bill allows the District to spend its local funds as its sees fit. In contrast, the House Appropriations Committee-approved fiscal year 2017 D.C. Appropriations bill blocks D.C. from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women and on taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana. Norton announced she will file amendments to remove these riders when the House bill goes to the floor next week.
The Senate and House bills both prevent the District government from shutting down if the federal government shuts down in fiscal year 2018. This is the fourth straight year Norton has gotten D.C. exempt from shutdowns.
The Senate bill provides D.C. $34.5 million for emergency planning and security costs, including for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, $5 million less than the House’s fiscal year 2017 bill and equal to the requested amount in the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget.
Norton said that she was particularly pleased that the Senate bill provides $14 million for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) for ongoing work to control flooding in the city and clean up the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and Rock Creek, equal to the fiscal year 2016 enacted level, especially considering that the House fiscal year 2017 bill does not provide any funding for DC Water.
The bill provides $5 million to combat HIV/AIDS in D.C., equal to the amount in the House appropriations bill and equal to the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget request. The bill also provides $450,000 for the Major General David F. Wherley, Jr. District of Columbia National Guard Retention and College Access Program for tuition for D.C. National Guard soldiers, which is the same as the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget request and House fiscal year 2017 bill, and $15,000 more than the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.
“The Senate Appropriations Committee for the second straight year has not imposed any riders that prevent the city from using its local funds as local officials see fit, which is immensely important to D.C.,” Norton said. “Still, I am deeply disappointed that the Senate has chosen to block D.C.’s budget autonomy referendum for the upcoming fiscal year. However, it is important that it did not repeal the referendum. There is still work to be done on this bill, especially for DCTAG, but I am sure we can improve it.”