Norton Priorities for D.C. Passed in Appropriations Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today praised the House’s fiscal year 2022 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which includes several large victories for the District of Columbia. The Committee on Appropriations passed the bill last week.
The bill provides $40 million for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG), which a Norton bill created, and, importantly, increases the DCTAG annual and lifetime awards; prohibits the president from federalizing the D.C. police department; and, in other important steps, removes the two enacted fiscal year 2021 riders, which prohibit D.C. from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women and on recreational marijuana commercialization, which more than a dozen states have done. The bill also provides $254 million to the General Services Administration for the Department of Homeland Security consolidation project at St. Elizabeths in Ward 8.
“I am grateful to the full committee chair, Representative Rosa DeLauro, and to the subcommittee chair, Representative Mike Quigley, for passing a bill with big wins for D.C.,” Norton said. “I am particularly pleased the bill not only provides $40 million for DCTAG but also increases both the annual and lifetime DCTAG awards. DCTAG is critical for D.C. students and families, who do not have the same array of public institutions of higher education as other families do in most states, and for the D.C. tax base because DCTAG encourages taxpayers to move to and remain in the District. The bill includes my request for the first increase in the annual and lifetime DCTAG awards since I got the program created in 1999.
“I am also very pleased the bill respects D.C.’s right to self-government by allowing D.C. to spend its local funds as it sees fit, including on abortions for low-income women and on recreational marijuana commercialization, and by prohibiting the president from federalizing the D.C. police department. With Democrats controlling the White House, House and Senate, we have the best opportunity in over a decade to enact a spending bill with no anti-home-rule riders, as this bill does and as I requested.”
“The Department of Homeland Security consolidation project is immensely important to the federal government as well as to the District of Columbia, where DHS will be consolidated. I appreciate that the bill will move us toward completion,” Norton said. “Currently, DHS agencies lease expensive office space across the National Capital Region. Consolidating the headquarters of these agencies on one campus here will improve national security coordination and cooperation, while reducing the federal government’s footprint and saving taxpayer money. DHS consolidation will also lead to more spending in D.C. by DHS employees, assisting the D.C. economy. The funding will go a long way to completing the project, improving DHS operations and ultimately improving our country’s security.”
Norton secured the following victories:
- The bill provides $40 million for DCTAG, an increase in the annual DCTAG award from $10,000 to $15,000 and an increase in the lifetime DCTAG award from $50,000 to $75,000. The bill also repeals the provision that reduced the family income eligibility limit from $750,000 to $500,000. DCTAG makes up the difference for D.C. residents between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public institutions of higher education in the United States.
- The bill has no anti-home-rule riders. In particular, it removes the two fiscal year 2021 enacted riders, which prohibit the District from spending its local funds on abortions for low-income women and on recreational marijuana commercialization.
- The bill provides $25 million for emergency planning and security costs related to the federal presence in D.C. Norton secured $66.7 million for these costs in the fiscal year 2021 supplemental appropriations bill the House passed in May.
- The bill allows the District to spend its local funds under the Local Budget Autonomy Act, which means that the local budget passed by the D.C. Council and signed by the mayor can take effect after a congressional review period, like all other local D.C. bills.
- The bill exempts D.C. from federal government shutdowns in fiscal year 2023. Norton has gotten annual shutdown exemptions enacted every year since the 2013 federal government shutdown.
- The bill provides $8 million for DC Water for ongoing work to control flooding in the city and to clean up the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and Rock Creek.
- The bill provides an extra $5 million to combat HIV/AIDS in D.C.
- The bill provides $600,000 for the Major General David F. Wherley, Jr. District of Columbia National Guard Retention and College Access Program.
- Norton is disappointed the bill allows new students to enroll in the private school voucher program Congress imposed on the District, which is the only federally funded or created voucher program in the U.S. The program does not deserve federal funding because it has failed to improve academic achievement, as measured by math and reading test scores. However, she is pleased that the bill requires participating voucher schools to comply with federal civil rights laws and that the report accompanying the bill indicates that the program will be phased out in fiscal year 2023.