CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, October 2, 2013, the House will consider H.J.Res. 71, the Provide Local Funding for the District of Columbia Act, under a rule. The joint resolution was introduced by Representative Anders Crenshaw (R-FL), Chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.
The Provide Local Funding for the District of Columbia Act provides for the immediate availability of local funds (which are subject to the control of Congress through the annual Appropriations process) for the District of Columbia under the same conditions as in effect at the end of the just completed fiscal year. Funds are available until another appropriations bill (such as regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or December 15, 2013.
Appropriations for the District of Columbia are established through the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The government of the District of Columbia is unique in that its entire budget (including spending funded through locally raised revenues and fees) is passed through in the Financial Services appropriations bill. When a lapse of appropriations and federal government shutdown occurs, the District of Columbia government must decide whether local employees are declared essential personnel in accordance with prior interpretations of the Anti-Deficiency Act.
During previous shutdowns, the District of Columbia government declared such activities as trash removal non-essential. For example, during the 1995-96 shutdowns, one-third of the District’s workforce was furloughed. However, last month, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray declared his intention to designate all DC government employees as essential in any Federal government shutdown. His action is an effort to assert the District of Columbia’s budget authority from that of the federal appropriations process, undermining current law Congressional controls on the use of the District’s locally raised funds. Those controls currently restrict sensitive policy areas, such as taxpayer funding of abortions.
Yet, restrictions on the use of locally-raised funding put the District of Columbia’s government at risk of missing payments on leased property such as traffic lights, public safety vehicles, leased real property and computer equipment. If payments are missed, the city will be at risk of legal actions to repossess this equipment. Any missed payments are also reported to DC’s bondholders, threatening DCs credit rating and raising future borrowing costs.
There is precedent for allowing the District of Columbia to use locally raised revenues to fund government operations. On January 4, 1996, PL 104-90 was enacted to permit the District of Columbia to use locally raised revenues to fund government operations during the term of Fiscal Year 1996 absent enactment of appropriations for the District Government in a regular appropriations bill for that year.