Norton Secures Victories in D.C. Appropriations Bill Passed by House Today
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House today passed the fiscal year 2022 District of Columbia Appropriations bill, which has many victories for D.C. secured by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). The bill provides $40 million for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG), a program 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.
“I am very pleased with the fiscal year 2022 D.C. Appropriations bill that the House passed today, and I think D.C. residents will be too,” 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 that most states do, 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.”
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 enacted fiscal year 2021 riders, which prohibit the District from spending its local funds on abortions for low-income women and on recreational marijuana commercialization.
- 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, increasingly important in light of climate change.
- 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 that the bill allows new students to enroll in the D.C. private school voucher program, instead of permitting the program to continue only until the current students graduate or leave the program. Congress imposed the voucher program on the District, which is the only federally funded or created voucher program, even though it has rejected a national voucher program. The program does not deserve federal funding because it has failed to meet its own goal of improving 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 beginning in fiscal year 2023.