Norton Says Senate Vote to Block Cruz D.C. Health Insurance Amendment is an Encouraging Sign for Final D.C. Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) thanked the Senate for voting today to table, or kill, Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) amendment to prohibit the District of Columbia from using its local funds to carry out the Health Insurance Requirement Amendment Act of 2018 (HIRA), which requires D.C. residents to have health insurance. Cruz filed his amendment on the floor to the fiscal year 2019 D.C. Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate today as part of a minibus appropriations package. Three states (Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont) have passed individual mandate laws similar to the District’s. The Senate-passed D.C. appropriations bill contains two anti-home-rule riders: prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds on recreational marijuana commercialization and abortions for low-income women. These are the only amendments Norton will likely not be able to remove unless the House and/or Senate change majority from Republican control.
“I thank the Senate for rejecting Senator Cruz’s poison pill amendment that would have undemocratically interfered with the local laws of the nation’s capital,” Norton said. “I particularly want to thank Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy for speaking forcefully on the floor in defense of D.C. home rule. D.C. residents and I are grateful for his leadership and for fighting to see that the District can spend its local funds as it sees fit. We have consistently been able to survive Senate appropriations before, but we have not had to face floor amendments in over a decade. We continue to work to rid D.C.’s appropriations bill of all anti-home-rule riders, but we are pleased that we were able to prevent any new attacks on D.C.’s local laws and policies in the Senate. I will be working hard as the House and Senate prepare to go to conference to ensure the House-passed D.C. riders do not make it into the final spending bill.”
The House-passed fiscal year 2019 D.C. Appropriations bill contained a record seven anti-home-rule riders: prohibits D.C. from using its local funds to carry out HIRA; prohibits D.C. from using its local funds to seize assets as part of enforcing the HIRA tax penalty; repeals the Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012; prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds on recreational marijuana commercialization; prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds on abortions for low-income women; repeals the Death with Dignity Act; and prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds to carry out the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act.