Logosm.gif (1927 bytes)
navlinks.gif (4688 bytes)
Hruler04.gif (5511 bytes)

Back to Mark David Richards’s main page

Mark David Richards
Citizens’ Guide to the
Congressional Appropriations Process for the District of Columbia
February 2002




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


DCWatch Archives
Council Period 12
Council Period 13
Council Period 14

Election 1998
Election 2000
Election 2002

Election 2004
Election 2006

Government and People
Anacostia Waterfront Corporation
Boards and Com
Campaign Finance
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Management Officer
City Council
Control Board
Corporation Counsel
DC Agenda
Elections and Ethics
Fire Department
FOI Officers
Inspector General
Housing and Community Dev.
Human Services
Mayor's Office
Mental Health
Motor Vehicles
Neighborhood Action
National Capital Revitalization Corp.
Planning and Econ. Dev.
Planning, Office of
Police Department
Property Management
Public Advocate
Public Libraries
Public Schools
Public Service Commission
Public Works
Regional Mobility Panel
Sports and Entertainment Com.
Taxi Commission
Telephone Directory
University of DC
Water and Sewer Administration
Youth Rehabilitation Services
Zoning Commission

Issues in DC Politics

Budget issues
DC Flag
DC General, PBC
Gun issues
Health issues
Housing initiatives
Mayor’s mansion
Public Benefit Corporation
Regional Mobility
Reservation 13
Tax Rev Comm
Term limits repeal
Voting rights, statehood
Williams’s Fundraising Scandals


Appleseed Center
Cardozo Shaw Neigh.Assoc.
Committee of 100
Fed of Citizens Assocs
League of Women Voters
Parents United
Shaw Coalition



What Is DCWatch?

themail archives


Citizens’ Guide to the Congressional Approval Process for Washington, DC’s Local Budget

Analysis by Mark David Richards, Ph.D., Sociologist, mark@bisconti.com
February 2002

Each year in Washington, District of Columbia, like in other states and cities, the local government develops a draft budget and financial plan based on data from its departments (revenue, police, fire, human services, parks and recreation, etc.). DC’s elected officials hold public hearings and issue a final working budget. In other parts of the nation, that is the end of the process—the state or city gets on with its business. But not in DC. DC’s political status has resulted in a governing arrangement that is costly, hard to follow, and frustrating, even for long-term residents.

In DC, the budget and financial plan is subject to the Congressional Appropriations Process. No American state or Territory is subjected to this process, and no American state or Territory subjects its cities to such. DC’s elected officials do not have legislative, budgetary, or judicial autonomy. Therefore, the budget remains a "proposed draft" until the House of Representatives and the Senate each individually review and modify DC’s budget and meet in conference to agree on a single budget, and send it to the President for approval or veto.

For the political party that controls Congress, the current arrangement is a powerful lever to control local officials and policy. DC gets caught in national partisan fights as Congress feuds eloquently over whether to allow DC elected officials and residents to implement their budget, or whether to overrule them. DC residents and Congress have had ongoing disputes about the local governing arrangement, public policy decisions, and taxation without representation for 200 years. For an outstanding analysis of the federal/local relationship since "Home Rule" (1973) see "Congress and the Governance of the Nation’s Capital: The Conflict of Federal and Local Interests," by Howard University Political Science Professor Charles Wesley Harris, Ph.D.

Until the Constitution is amended, or DC’s status is changed to make it a state or part of another state, DC must rely on Congressional restraint or try to persuade Congress to pass laws to give DC legislative, budgetary, or judicial autonomy. This analysis provides background on the current governing arrangement in DC, and examines the Congressional Appropriations Process of the FY 2002 DC local budget.

DC Has a Unique—and Peculiar—Political Status

DC finds itself in a peculiar situation that does not fit traditional definitions, making it is hard to compare to other areas. DC has been a part of the U.S. for longer than most states, but it is not a state or located within a state. According to Jamin Raskin, American University Professor of Law, the federal government defines DC as a state for legal purposes in over 500 statutes. The DC government performs most state functions, as well as county and city functions. DC is a hybrid jurisdiction. Some call it a federal seat of government or District, some a city-state, some a colony, and some a plantation.

The architects of the federal system granted Congress the right of exclusive legislative authority over its seat of government in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the 1787 U.S. Constitution. This was primarily to assure that federal officials and buildings would be secure from mobs and disruptive events that were common in the early years of the country, just after the American Revolution. (To read about this Clause, see http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/tocs/a1_8_17.html.) Thanks to this clause, Congress is not subject to the same Constitutional limitations in DC that restrict its power in the fifty states. In DC, Congress can modify all local laws and budgetary priorities without the consent of the governed.

DC residents have not had the same rights or safeguards as Americans who live in states since 1801 when Congress assumed the power of legislative authority. DC residents have never had voting representatives in the Senate or in the House of Representatives to protect their interests. Since 1961, they have had a limited Presidential vote in which their number of electors is limited to the number of the smallest state, rather than by their population like other areas. The President appoints their local judges and public prosecutor. And although Congress has delegated power to a locally elected mayor and thirteen-member City Council since 1973, Congress has not granted DC judicial, legislative, or budgetary autonomy. DC has a "limited Home Rule" government. That is why some DC residents describe the area as a colony or a plantation.

The current arrangement is not characteristic of representative democracy in the American tradition of the right to local self-government, but there is no requirement in the Constitution to practice democracy in the nation’s capital. That choice is for Congress and American citizens to make. Nationally representative surveys of 1,000 U.S. adults that I directed show there is majority agreement that, in principle, DC citizens should have control of their local government and equal voting rights in the Senate and the House of Representatives. But many in Congress are not interested in granting DC these rights. A win-win solution has not yet been identified that could bridge the partisan divisions on this issue.

Taxation without Representation

Federal taxes. Like citizens living in states, DC residents pay their full share of federal taxes—nearly $3 billion each year. DC pays higher per capita taxes than 49 of 50 states (only Connecticut citizens paid higher per capita federal taxes than DC citizens). Residents don’t mind paying their fair share of federal taxes. However, they object to not have voting representatives in the Senate or the House of Representatives, and to having to go through the federal Appropriations process to get their local budget approved.

Like federal Territories, DC has a non-voting Delegate in the House of Representatives. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has been quite effective in advocating on behalf of DC residents. Having voting representatives in Congress would help DC express its opinions and protect its interests in federal legislation. But should Congress review DC’s local budget at all?

DC receives benefits from the federal government for its federal tax payment. Like states, counties, and cities, DC qualifies for and is able to receive grants for specific federal priorities and programs. For example, DC receives categorical grants for Medicaid, Medicare, health and human services, and transportation. Program administrators must meet federal requirements to receive the grants, and money must be used for the purposes specified.

In the FY 2002 budget, DC expects to receive $1.54 billion in federal categorical grants, which account for about a quarter of DC’s $6 billion operating budget. This money is not a federal payment for services that DC provides or a payment in lieu of taxes—it is a return on the money DC pays in federal taxes.

The percentage DC receives in federal grants is not out of line with what many states receive. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), of the $1.152 trillion spent by all state and local governments in 2000, $242 billion—21 percent—came from federal grants.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the amount and percentage of federal spending varies from state to state. The amount depends on factors such as population, age of population, and poverty level. For example, in 2000, California received $176 billion in federal spending, compared to $3 billion received in Wyoming.

District of Columbia taxes. Like in the fifty states, in addition to federal taxes permanent DC residents also pay "state" (District) taxes. But, unlike the fifty states, DC’s local budget goes through the Congressional Appropriations Process after it has been prepared and approved by DC local elected officials. In this way, the federal government treats DC more like a federal agency than a state or a city.

DC must start its budget planning activities months in advance in order to allow Congress the time it needs for its approval process. Preparation for the FY 2002 budget began in August 2000, when the Mayor’s Office of Budget and Planning (OBP) distributed budget development guidelines to municipal agencies. Agencies were given until December 2000 to prepare budget requests that matched mayoral priorities. OBP updated economic data and projections, analyzed and revised budget submissions, and submitted a baseline budget to the Mayor in January 2001.

The Mayor finalized and presented the proposed budget and financial plan to the DC Council on March 14, 2001. Between that time and April 6, the Council held 61 public hearings and Council committees marked up and reported on agency budgets. On May 1, 2001, the Council approved the budget. To see the FY 2002 Operating Budget, go to http://dc.gov/mayor/budget_2002/index.shtm; to see an organizational chart of DC government, look under Special Chapters.

On June 4, 2001, the Mayor submitted the budget to The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the President submitted it to Congress as part of the White House annual budget request.

Congress is routinely late in passing the DC budget because local DC issues are not their highest priority, and the discussions often get mired in partisan conflicts. A late budget delays even further the lag time between planning and implementation and costs DC added money. According to the Mayor’s office, in 1996 the federal government delayed passing DC’s budget for seven months. In 1998 and 2000, it delayed DC’s budget by a month and a half, and in 1999 by three weeks. In 2001 (FY 2002 Appropriations), Congress was over two months late—it approved a DC budget on December 7, 2001. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon were certainly a higher priority. Because the FY 2001 budget year ended on September 30, 2001, Congress passed Continuing Resolutions so DC could continue operating under the 2001 budget until it had its new spending plan on December 21, 2001.

In Congress, DC’s budget was reviewed and modified by the nine members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on DC, the full 65 member House Committee on Appropriations, the 435 member House of Representatives, the seven member Senate Subcommittee on DC, the 29 member Senate Committee on Appropriations, and the 100 member Senate. A more detailed description of the FY 2002 process is described below.

The staffers on the Congressional committees in each chamber manage the budget process for the elected officials and stay behind the scenes. Few in DC know who committee staffers are or precisely what they do, even though they exert great authority over DC’s elected officials and citizens. Periodically, Congressional Members feud with staffers. For example, this year in the House floor debate over the conference report in which the Senate and House reconciled differences of opinion, the longest-serving member of the House Subcommittee, Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), said he would vote against the bill because staffers had apparently removed provisions to put a cap on legal fees related to lawsuits filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act that he had inserted in years past on an issue he cared about deeply. "Am I upset?," he asked the chamber. "Yes, especially since it was staff-driven. Who is supposed to control this chamber, the staff or the Members?"

After the Senate and the House agreed on the budget, Congress sent it back to the President for signature or veto. He signed the DC Appropriation bill on December 21, 2001.

This federal review process costs DC taxpayers money. According to The Report of the Commission on Budget and Financial Priorities of the District of Columbia, known as the "Rivlin Report," this process makes budget projections more difficult because it adds six months to the process, and it costs DC taxpayers $3 million annually. The cost of reporting mandates added to DC government responsibilities has not been assessed.

This process also costs citizens living in states—they pay for Congressional oversight committees and staff.

Responsibility without Resources

The DC government is responsible for state, county, city, and special district functions in one government. DC has the taxing powers of a state, county, and municipality. DC faces unique problems that increase its government operating costs.

DC has higher personal income taxes than most areas. According to the Mayor’s FY 2000 budget analysis submitted with the budget and financial plan, the tax burden of DC citizens is higher than the nation’s largest 51 cities:

Income level DC Tax Burden Relative to 51 City Average
$25,000 +6.9%
$50,000 +7.9%
$75,000 +13.2%
$100,000 +16.4%
$150,000 +19.4%

Some of the high tax burden has been caused by local government mismanagement over the years. DC’s government is making progress in addressing inefficiencies that have festered for decades, and DC residents will not be satisfied until there are considerably more improvements in service delivery. But, local government mismanagement is only part of the problem.

According to the National Association to Restore Pride in the Nation’s Capital http://www.narpac.org/RCA.HTM, DC’s share of the regional taxable income is very low—approximately five percent. At the same time, the cost of government in DC is 2.2 times higher than adjacent jurisdictions ($8,825 per DC resident compared to $4,000 per Delmarva resident). NARPAC reports that DC spends more than its neighbors in nearly all categories, except higher education and roads: DC spends twice as much for administration and debt interest, three times as much for social services, and four times as much for public safety. NARPAC finds that, largely due to the high rate of poverty, DC requires 25 percent more public funds than surrounding jurisdictions.

NARPAC shows that there are more poor people living in DC than in neighboring jurisdictions put together. The burden to support each poor person is carried by 2.6 non-poor workers in DC, compared with 17.8 non-poor workers in the suburbs. This increases not only the amount of government funds needed, but also the number of government employees needed. NARPAC estimates that "the burden of the poor on DC taxpayers is likely to be eight times higher than for the surrounding suburbs." NARPAC concludes that the major reason for high costs in DC is that it is "an incomplete, isolated, inner city trying to function as a multi-level jurisdiction," and that DC "will have difficulty competing with the suburbs unless some form of mandatory ‘poverty-sharing’ arrangements are made throughout the national capital metro area." However, the suburbs, located in separate political jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, have not expressed an interest in poverty-sharing programs. NARPAC also believes the DC government can become more efficient.

Along with DC’s high poverty burden, DC also services the federal government, which does not appear to compensation DC adequately. The Washington Post commented on DC’s "structural deficit" associated with the presence of the federal establishment in an editorial (Nov. 30, 2001). It reported that even after the 1997 reform in which the federal government assumed financial responsibility for DC’s courts and prisons, "[t]he District must still perform $486 million in state-level functions, must still provide $227 million in police and fire services to non-taxpaying federal properties and must still forgo $193 million in lost tax revenue from exempted federal government-related activity."

Congress pays no taxes or payment in lieu of taxes on the valuable land it owns in DC and it exempts many organizations from taxes—41 percent of DC assessed property valued at $32 billion is exempted, 65 percent of which belongs to the federal government (see The Orphaned Capital by economist Carol O’Cleireacain, Ph.D.). The DC Tax Revision Commission advised that the federal government should make a Payment to DC in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), but Congress has not yet chosen to support this approach.

In addition, Congress forbids DC from raising revenues from commuters who work in DC full-time but live in other states—this represents nearly 70 percent of DC’s workforce. The vast majority of commuters are from the "Washington Region," and live just miles away in suburbs in Virginia and Maryland. They do not contribute any part of employee taxes to DC. DC is the only area in the U.S. that has this restriction against a reciprocal tax imposed. According to Dr. O’Cleireacain, the result is a financial windfall for Virginia and Maryland, but a loss to DC of a billion dollars a year. Although a commuter tax has been discussed for many years, there are other proposals that could accomplish the same objectives as the commuter tax. One proposal by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton would have the federal government pay DC for the money lost by the restriction. Another proposal by the National Association to Restore Pride in America’s Capital (NARPEC) would have Maryland and Virginia pay a "Payment in Lieu of (Commuter) Taxes."

Overall, the Mayor’s office estimates that DC loses approximately $1.7 billion yearly in uncompensated costs imposed by the federal government. This financial loss to DC contributed to a financial crisis in the mid-1990s that (from a local DC point-of-view) led the federal government to take control of DC’s courts and prisons. In essence, much of the federal contribution to DC could be considered a hidden subsidy to the states of Maryland and Virginia. Those states value this arrangement and protect their interests in Congress. Maryland has ten and Virginia has thirteen voting members of Congress. Some Members from those states always serve on the Congressional committees that oversee DC. This sometimes causes a conflict of interest.

Before 1997, Congress provided a "federal payment" to DC for services it receives and because it doesn’t pay taxes. The federal payment was a grant of approximately $660 million (or $2.50 per U.S. citizen per year) that could be used for any priority identified by the DC government—it was not a categorical grant. Last century for a brief period after Congress removed all voting rights at all levels of government (limited local self-government was restored in 1973), the federal government contributed 50 percent of DC’s budget. But for most of DC’s history the contribution by the federal government for services provided and in lieu of taxes has been less than 20 percent. In "Washington: A History of the Capital, 1800-1950," Constance McLaughlin Green showed that this issue has been a point of conflict since DC’s formation.

Federal Contribution to DC for Services and in Lieu of Taxes as a Percentage of Local Operating Budget
(Source: District of Columbia 2002 Appropriations Bill Report by the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives)

In 1997, the "federal payment" was cancelled and Congress agreed to pay for certain "state" functions (DC courts, corrections, and offender supervision), which accounts for a good portion of the federal share that Congress added to DC’s FY 2002 budget during the Appropriations process (these costs are approximately $350 million, or 5 percent of the DC budget). The loss of these state functions has made it difficult for DC’s elected officials to discuss DC’s desire to become a state.

In the FY 2002 Congressional Appropriations process, Congress contributed $408 million during the Appropriations process, or 6 percent of the total. Most of this amount is designated for courts and prisons. Some is for emergency planning and security costs related to the September 11 terrorist attacks, and some is for a program that allows DC college students to pay in-state tuition at state universities nationwide. Other funds were for Members’ favorite projects and programs.

District officials and residents were very grateful for these contributions. However, this federal contribution is not a payment for services and tax exemptions because this money must be used for specific programs and DC cannot count on receiving it from year to year—it is not derived from an equitable formula. Under the current arrangement, the federal contribution is somewhat arbitrary and can even depend on the perceived "good behavior" of DC’s elected officials. This can make it difficult to implement the will of the people that local elected officials represent.

The total FY 2002 operating budget is $6,048 billion (not including capital). Of the total, DC collects 74 percent of its local budget from local sources. It collects 61 percent of revenues from local taxpayers and Intra-District funds and 13 percent from private funds (Water and Sewer Authority, Lottery, Washington Convention Center Enterprise Fund, Washington Aqueduct, etc.). The DC government expects to qualify for $1,543,041 in federal grant programs, which would account for 26 percent of the operating budget.

Sources of DC Local Operating Budget
Local DC Funds: 74%

Congress Uses the DC Appropriations Process to Legislate for DC

The most frustrating aspect of DC’s budgeting process for both DC elected officials and residents is that Congress uses the DC Appropriations bill to legislate for DC by adding "riders" to the General Provisions section of the DC Appropriations Bill. Congress adds these riders to micromanage DC citizens and their elected officials. Often, the intent of the Congressmen who add these riders is upstanding. But, since the Members who add riders are not subject to the will of the people in DC, they can be out of step with local opinion. Some riders ride on and on and have been added to DC’s budget every year since 1973. This process can be seen as a game of "hide the ball."

In fact, each year Congress adds dozens of riders. The number varies from year to year. In 2001, Congress added nearly 70 riders. Professor Harris points out that "In theory, legislating in an appropriations bill is prohibited by the rules of the House of Representatives, but this rule is often ignored and Congress has intervened in a variety of policy areas, including personnel, public safety, education, land use, and public works." In my analysis, the most recent riders fell into six broad categories:

  • Budgetary controls and operating and reporting requirements,
  • Contracting restrictions,
  • DC government and employee restrictions and powers
  • Education and school restrictions,
  • Legal overrides and social restrictions ("social riders"), and
  • Riders requested of Congress by DC government.

DC’s elected officials oppose the imposition of riders because they violate the spirit of Home Rule and short-circuit policy decisions that otherwise would receive serious public input and debate. Nevertheless, officials also realize that adding riders is "the way the game is played," so even they occasionally request a rider be added.

Members of Congress argue that it is their Constitutional responsibility to legislate for DC in the federal interest and to impose "the values of the nation." But, as Professor Harris has noted, Congress does not have a means test or has not carefully defined "the federal interest" to use in justifying the addition of riders to DC’s budget—it is often arbitrary or ideological.

Legal overrides and social restrictions especially aggravate DC citizens and spur them to action. Each year since 1997, The Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition has mounted a campaign to draw attention to the question of local self-government. Some citizens have even gone to Congress and, during the vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, yelled "DC votes no!" and "The capital of our nation is the last plantation—Free DC!" Each time, they were arrested, charged with intent to disrupt Congress, and tried by jury. Thus far, juries have not found these citizens guilty because jury members determined that citizens were trying to express an opinion in a legislative body in which they do not have voting representation.

Though DC residents are not counted in Congress, some like to think of Congress as playing the role of DC’s "state legislature." Although this appears to be accurate, this comparison is difficult because DC residents did not elect members of Congress and have no way to hold them accountable. Residents of state capital cities have full voting rights in their state legislatures. Although states usually contribute a significant proportion of a city’s budget, state legislatures do not control local budgets. Dr. O’Cleireacain reports that in Boston, Memphis, and Baltimore, state aid accounts for 28 to 38 percent of general revenues. Even in cities in financial crisis, a financial control board—not the whole state legislature—is established to review the budget.

While DC residents recognize that there are many honorable Members of Congress, many DC residents consider Congress to be unfairly imposing its values and priorities in an area where it cannot be held accountable to citizens, as in their own jurisdictions.

Description of the 2002 DC Congressional Appropriations Process

Here is a brief description of the steps and some of the debate in the Congressional Appropriations Process to approve DC’s local budget after the Mayor submitted it to the President, and he submitted it to Congress. The full bills and debates can be found through "Thomas," http://thomas.loc.gov/,  the primary source of Congressional legislative information on the Internet. See Status of FY2002 Appropriations Bills at: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/appover.html 

Round 1—Chairman’s Mark: On September 6, 2001, Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the District of Columbia of the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives, cut 35 riders, which was approved by the Subcommittee. D.C.’s non-voting Delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, said this was the best Chairman’s mark DC had seen in years—indeed, it removed many of the budgetary controls and reporting requirements, many of which have been added into DC law and standard practices. Nevertheless, over 30 Congressional riders remained on DC’s budget bill. In addition, about half of the language submitted in the original budget by DC’s local elected officials was deleted from the District’s budget submission. This angered local elected officials and created conflict. This issue was not discussed much in public forums, but Rep. Knollenberg and Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) promised Congresswoman Norton that "Members will continue to meet on the other disputed items before the bill goes to the floor and, if necessary, will continue to work on those disputed items even in conference." http://www.house.gov/norton/20010920b.htm

On September 10, the Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition held a press briefing in front of DC’s City Hall to announce its Free DC Budget Campaign http://www.standupfordemocracy.org, after which participants walked to Capitol Hill and delivered a bipartisan consensus letter signed by over 300 civic groups and individual citizens calling on Congress to eliminate all riders. Stand Up hoped to draw public attention to the budget process and Congressional meddling.

The next day terrorists attacked and destroyed the World Trade Towers and a portion of the Pentagon. DC’s budget bill became low priority in light of the national tragedy. Over time, articles in The Washington Post and The Washington Times focused on a few controversial provisions (especially Domestic Partnership), but neither provided the level of detail that could help DC citizens understand the larger issues. The Washington Post wrote an editorial in support of a DC Home Rule budget.

Round 2—The Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, chaired by Rep. C. W. "Bill" Young (R-FL), reviewed and modified the budget on September 20 (http://www.house.gov/appropriations/news/2002/02dcfull.htm). Overall, the funding level approved was the same as recommended by the Appropriations Committee: a District share of $6.048 billion and a federal contribution of $408 million (6% of the total). The nation was uniting in response to the terrorist attack, and there was little desire for partisan feuding over DC’s budget.

In light of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the obvious lack of emergency preparedness in both the local government and on Capitol Hill, Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young (R-FL) proposed $16 million be spent for security planning in the capital (This money had previously been set aside to reimburse DC for expenses incurred in providing security for World Bank/IMF meetings and protests, which were cancelled after the attacks). Congressional leaders, ignoring flaws in their own emergency plan, attacked District leaders instead. To make their point, a restriction was added to the emergency planning contribution that would withhold half of certain federal monies to the District until the security plan was submitted to the appropriations committees. The amendment was accepted. The Mayor’s office had already accelerated an emergency plan that was under development. http://www.washingtondc.gov/citizen/preparedness/index.shtm

The House loosened one restriction that it had held in place since 1992 when DC passed the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act that would allow DC domestic partners (straight or gay, platonic, or otherwise) to register with the Mayor’s office, require all health care facilities to allow domestic partners visitation rights, and permit DC employees to buy health insurance for a registered partner at the employees’ own expense. Every year since 1992, a rider was added to forbid the DC government from using any funds—local or federal—to implement the law. A Domestic Partnership Coalition had worked since that time to try to persuade Members to remove the restriction on the use of local funds. At one time previously, the Senate approved such a measure, but the House did not. This year, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) made the proposal to change the restriction so that it would remain illegal for DC to use federal funds to implement DC’s law, but it would permit DC to use local funds. A bipartisan majority (of Democrats and moderate Republicans) accepted his proposal. Here is the language of the revised rider:

"None of the Federal funds made available in this Act may be used to implement or enforce the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 (D.C. Law 9-114; D.C. Official Code, sec. 32-701 et seq.) or to otherwise implement or enforce any system of registration of unmarried, cohabiting couples, including but not limited to registration for the purpose of extending employment, health, or governmental benefits to such couples on the same basis that such benefits are extended to legally married couples."

The Kolbe amendment triggered "Action Alerts" from many national organizations urging members from across the nation to contact their Congressional leaders to express an opinion about how Congress should change DC’s local budget:

Two other notable "social riders" were carried over from the previous year. One related to an Initiative that 69 percent of DC voters passed on November 3, 1998 to allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to dying cancer and AIDS patients (Initiative 59 passed in all eight Wards and in every voter precinct). At the time of the election, Congress wrote a rider that forbid the DC Board of Elections and Ethics from counting the vote. After nearly a year, the courts ruled that the vote had to be counted. When Congress discovered that 69 percent had approved the Initiative (similar to those passed in Western states), it wrote a new rider forbidding the DC government from using any federal or local funds to implement the policy.

The other controversial rider blocked the use of any funds—federal or local—to implement an AIDS prevention program (clean needle exchange) for drug users. The program has been tested and endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as an effective strategy to reduce the spread of AIDS and to intervene to encourage rehabilitation. It has been adopted in many parts of the country where transmission of AIDS via drug abuse is a problem.

Round 3—The House of Representatives: On September 25, 2001, the full House of Representatives passed H.R. 2944 by 327 to 88 (Voting for: 188 Democrat, 138 Republican, 1 Independent), with the same funding level as proposed by the Subcommittee and approved by the Committee. http://www.house.gov/appropriations/news/2002/02dcfloor.htm;  for the full Bill go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/ and type in the Bill number H.R. 2944).

The terrorist attacks had a unifying effect on the nation and its leadership in Congress. This carried over to the DC Appropriations process. During the floor debate, Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) urged his colleagues to pass the DC Appropriations bill without adding amendments. He argued that the issues in dispute were local in nature, not national. He said:

"All that is good about this bill could and hopefully will not be overshadowed by some of the activity that will take place after the general debate. There will be amendments unfortunately in which some of my colleagues, I believe, perhaps, well intentioned, but nonetheless, will attempt to overrule, not just the wisdom of the full committee when we made certain decisions about how the bill should be finally shaped when it was brought to the floor, but, moreover, they will attempt in these amendments to micromanage and to overrule the local city council and the mayor. … The District of Columbia and its citizens, who have sent more people to be involved in our military than many of our States, they pay a higher share of taxes than some of our States in terms of the total aggregate amount, deserve a right to have their votes count. They have no vote here on the floor of the House or in the U.S. Senate. The only place that they really have a vote is when they vote for city council and for the mayor. We should respect those votes in a way in which when the city council and the mayor come to a consensus around even controversial public policy, that we avoid the need for the Congress to try to sit as a larger city council. We come from other places and other towns, many who have made decisions on these similar types of matters, and we should not, unless it is a matter of national policy for the whole country, interject ourselves in the affairs of the capital city. I would hope that we would avoid that today...."

Congresswoman Norton also appealed to her voting Congressional colleagues to approve the local budget and highlighted recent bipartisanship. She said:

"Mr. Chairman, especially at a time when Congress has made a successful effort, at least thus far, to put aside the usual quarrels, I hope that the bipartisanship we have shown on other matters will be especially evident on the D.C. appropriation. After all, it is the smallest. It is really tiny. It is a tiny fraction of every other appropriation. It consists almost entirely of local funds, raised from local taxpayers. It is a local budget that does not belong here at all. I apologize that you are distracted by having to get into the business of a local jurisdiction. You should be embarrassed at a time like this to have to do so. Finding ourselves distracted from the most serious business, the business of war and peace following a vicious attack on American soil, I can only hope that this body will not allow the local budget of a city to detain us long or headlines to read after this matter is done here, Congress of the United States Overturns the Laws in Its Own Capital, even as it is asking, telling us, that the country is fighting in behalf of democracy. At a time when our country's message to the world is that we are defending democracy and freedom, I ask that no attempt be made to nullify the democratically expressed will of the people of the District of Columbia by attachments that overturn local law."

As expected, amendments were proposed. An amendment by Rep. Dave Weldon (FL) sought to prohibit all funds from being used for implementation of the District of Columbia domestic partnership act. Mr. Hosteller (IN) rose to support the amendment. He said:

"We have been told that it is a matter of home rule, and we have been lectured that Federal interference is both unwarranted and unconscionable. Mr. Chairman, I would remind my colleagues of the oath they took to uphold the United States Constitution. I would remind them that article 1, section 8 of that great document states that ‘Congress shall have the power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over the District.’ The District of Columbia was established as a unique entity. In order to prevent any one State from exercising undue influence over the Capital city, the Founders wisely created a Federal district that would belong to the whole Nation. As such, the District of Columbia should be a reflection of the values shared by the rest of the Nation."

Rep. James Moran (D-VA) spoke against the Weldon Amendment, explaining how DC was being singled out on a policy that had widespread national support in the medical community. He said:

"In 1992, the District of Columbia passed a domestic partnership program. We have forbidden them from implementing that program for the last 9 years. All it did was say that the District employees can purchase health insurance at their own expense for a domestic partner. Who qualifies? Well, disabled people and their health care provider, two widows or widowers living together, a grandmother and mother who are jointly raising children, two relatives raising their children together, as well as domestic partners. The amendment today would continue the ban on the use of local funds to implement the Domestic Partnership Act. But no Federal funds are involved. Why are we involved? Why should we be against expanding health care coverage to widows, to children and to unmarried couples? They are using their own money. If they do not use their own money, many of them will have to be financed by the Medicaid program. Most of which is paid for by Federal funds. It just does not make sense, and I think it is mean-spirited as well. Throughout this country, in Los Angeles; in Denver; in Baltimore; in Seattle; in St. Louis; in Philadelphia; in Pittsburgh; in Austin, Texas; in Iowa City, Idaho; Tucson, Arizona all those cities have the same domestic partnership policy. Yet we are denying it to the District of Columbia to be able to use their own funds and to enable people to purchase at their own expense health insurance?"

The amendment failed by 194 to 226, thereby allowing DC to spend its own money, but not federal money, to implement the law.

A member from Indiana successfully inserted a new social rider. It is the opinion of DC’s Commission Human Rights—the organization that enforces the DC Human Rights Act of 1977 and other laws on nondiscrimination—that under DC human rights law, Boy Scout leaders who are homosexual but do not promote their sexuality can remain in the Boy Scouts. Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN), a name few in DC had ever heard of, proposed and won a new rider that would intervene on the side of the Boy Scouts by not allowing DC to enforce its law. Here is the language of that rider:

"None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to issue, administer, or enforce any order by the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights relating to docket numbers 93-030-(PA) and 93-031-(PA)."

Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN), in introducing his amendment, defended his rider by saying the issue was not one of DC Home Rule, but one of Congress using the exclusive legislation authority it has over DC to protect "values Americans hold dear." He said:

"The most recent assault against the scouts occurred on June 20 when the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights ruled that the Boy Scouts of America had violated the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977. The Boy Scouts' crime? In keeping with their longstanding values and standards, the Boy Scouts had expelled two homosexual scout masters in Washington, D.C. Now, despite the constitutional protection of freedom of association, and despite the Supreme Court ruling that reaffirmed the Boy Scouts' right to determine its criteria for members and leaders, the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission ordered the Boy Scouts to reinstate the troop leaders and pay them $50,000 each. In addition, the Commission ruled that the Scouts must also pay all attorneys' fees and court costs. Mr. Chairman, this arrogant and intrusive ruling is just the latest in a long string of cultural broadsides against the Boy Scouts of America, a group dedicated to instilling selflessness, character, responsibility, and love for God and country of our Nation's boys and young men. …   This is not an issue of home rule. We do not have the authority, according to the Constitution, to govern on issues regarding the city of Atlanta or the city of San Francisco or the city of Tucson, Arizona. We do have constitutional authority over all legislative matters whatsoever in regard to the District of Columbia; and Members should stand up, recognize their constitutional authority, and recognize that all groups are under assault here with regard to the values that they hold dear."

Congresswoman Norton proposed an amendment to the Hostettler amendment that would only restrict the use of Federal funds from being used to enforce orders against the Boy Scouts by the DC Commission on Human Rights. She explained that the Commission’s vote was well reasoned and was currently in the courts, where the issue should be decided. She said:

"[T]his was not a knee-jerk vote by the District of Columbia Human Rights Commission. They submitted a very well-reasoned, 74-page decision which I think they can reasonably argue is very much consistent with the Supreme Court decision on this very issue. The Supreme Court says that gay men cannot interfere with the message of the Boy Scouts. The District of Columbia found that the gay men here were not strong activists of the kind that the Supreme Court recognized as interfering with the message of the Boy Scouts. Let us suppose that the District of Columbia is wrong. If the District is wrong, the Boy Scouts of America, as I speak, are pursuing their remedy. They are pursuing it because that decision was appealed on July 19. Therefore, they are now in the courts.  If we proceed, we are not only undermining the local courts of the District of Columbia, which, by the way, are Federal courts, but we are undermining the independence of the Federal judiciary as well, because this decision is based on a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States; and this matter will ultimately find its way there, if it has been incorrectly decided by the District's Human Rights Commission. We interfere with the independence of the judiciary when we, the Congress of the United States, decide that a politically unpopular decision has been made and, therefore, we will politically intervene into a court decision. We do not want to do that. We do not want to go there, especially not now." …

Nevertheless, Ms. Norton’s amendment failed by 173 to 243.

Colbert I. King, Deputy Editor of The Washington Post Editorial Page, explained in his weekly column the history of how DC came to have the current badly flawed Home Rule arrangement (September 29, 2001, "Democracy for the District, Too"). He wrote:

…"Congress preaches democracy to the world. But it thumbs its nose at decisions reached through an open and democratic process by our elected mayor and council. … D.C. home rule is a misnomer: self-government without the power of the purse. The current arrangement is a degrading, 28-year-old surrender of true home rule that grew out of a deal cut behind closed doors between the late William Natcher of Kentucky, a powerful House Appropriations Committee baron, and the late Detroit congressman and House District Committee chairman, Charles Diggs. … To get home-rule skeptics behind the bill, Diggs had to satisfy Natcher, … Natcher's condition for supporting home rule? The bill had to retain congressional control over the D.C. budget and the federal payment. Diggs bought it. … If the Senate had had its way in 1973, the District would have complete budget autonomy today. … But there was no requirement or expectation that the city's elected leaders would be at the beck and call of power-hungry congressional staffers who live vicariously through their bosses, as is the case today. …

Unfortunately, the '73 Senate -- led by home rule stalwarts Tom Eagleton (D-Mo.), the D.C. committee chairman, and ranking minority member Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.) -- was faced with a conference committee filled with House managers locked into the Diggs-Natcher scheme. Wanting a home rule bill for the District, the senators reluctantly went along. I know: I was a senior Senate District committee staff member at the time. It's long past time to end the Diggs-Natcher death grip on the city's purse strings. The District is not a city on its knees. … Congress should get out of the municipal government business, shut down those redundant D.C. oversight panels, make the staff get real jobs and put those federal tax dollars to some good use. A representative democracy should not, through Congress, deny true self-rule -- which is the power of the purse -- to its capital city. As long as Congress reviews and appropriates the District's budget, what passes for self-government in year 2001 is a sham. And home rule supporters shouldn't fear saying so . . . even as they pay federal taxes, bury attack victims and go off to war." (See full column at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/opinion/columns/kingcolbert

On September 30th, 2001, the Financial Management and Assistance Authority ("Control Board") that had been put in place in 1995 to oversee the DC government through a financial control period came to an end. The DC Chief Financial Officer took responsibility for many of the financial management functions held by the Control Board. Members of the Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition celebrated outside of city offices. The Common Denominator reported that local elected officials cheered quietly (October 8, 2001), and quoted Ward 6 Councilwoman Sharon Ambrose (D) saying, "I feel like it’s Independence Day here in the city. We have regained a small measure of our independence back." (See http://www.thecommondenominator.com/100801_news2.html,) 

That same day, Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans (D) wrote an article in The Washington Post’s Close to Home section, entitled, "The District gets short shrift—again." He discussed the economic impact of the terrorist attacks on DC, expressed confidence that DC could manage its finances, particularly if it had a level playing field, and said, "Every jurisdiction in the United States has taxing authority, and every citizen has a voting representative in the national legislature—except in the District. This situation is intolerable and must be fixed immediately. Plenty of proposals are floating around. I say to Congress, pick one and do it."

On October 2, 2001, Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD) and Del. Norton (D-DC) introduced "The District of Columbia Fiscal Integrity Act of 2001" http://www.theorator.com/bills107/hr2995.html to alter the federal-local relationship between Congress and DC. Congresswoman Norton’s press release said, "The bill … would give the District of Columbia autonomy over its own local, taxpayer-raised budget beginning October 1, 2003. In addition, the bill supports the District's own CFO independence law granting the District of Columbia's chief financial officer a five-year term and allowing the Mayor to fire the CFO only with the consent of two-thirds of the City Council." http://www.house.gov/norton/20011002.htm

Round 4—The Subcommittee on Appropriations of the Senate: After the House bill was received in the Senate on September 25, 2001, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Chair of The Subcommittee on the District of Columbia of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, worked to persuade her Republican colleagues to cut the riders that had been cut by Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) in the House Subcommittee, along with four additional ones, and to keep the consensus budget that DC’s elected officials had originally submitted. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed S. 1543, recommended by the subcommittee, on October 11, 2001: http://www.senate.gov/~appropriations/releases/record.cfm?id=179193.  The bill included 408 million in Federal funds added to federal grants DC was expected to receive for state, county, and city Federal grant programs.

The Committee reported that it had reduced the number of riders from 73 in 2001 to 33 this year. For example, it cut a rider that required that budget reports containing a category of activities labeled with a non-descriptive term, such as "other" or "miscellaneous," must include a description of activities and a detailed breakdown of costs for each activity. The Committee retained the requirement that the DC government must submit the name, title, grade, and salary of all DC government employees, but removed the requirement to also submit past work and salary history.

The Committee added three new riders, requested by DC officials. It modified a number of riders, including allowing DC to use locally-raised revenues to lobby the Congress or State legislatures, to implement DC’s domestic partnership law, to implement a needle exchange program, and to provide assistance for petition drives or civil suits for DC voting rights in Congress.

The Committee explained why it had retained a rider requiring the Mayor to report to Congress on a quarterly basis regarding specific quality of life issues in DC. In the Report, it wrote:

"The Congress is disappointed that the District was unable to produce timely and complete reports throughout fiscal year 2001 and retained the provision to emphasize the Committee’s interest in understanding and evaluating improvements in District quality of life. The District of Columbia has asserted improvements in these areas as proof that the city is able to undertake increased local control and autonomy. The Committee finds that a report on the quality of life in the District is necessary to evaluate improvement."

Senator Landrieu, the daughter of a former mayor of New Orleans, pointed out that while DC presents unique challenges, DC should have broader authority over its own funds. She said:

"While in many ways the District of Columbia is like any other city in the United States, it is at the same time unique in that it serves as a "home" for the President, 535 members of Congress, over 180,000 federal government employees, 1,290 federal buildings, national monuments, and perhaps most importantly, the hopes, fears and dreams of the American people." She said, "I am committed to ensuring that District officials have the tools they need to continue to serve D.C. and those who come to visit here. Given these improvements, I believe it is appropriate to give the District broader authority over its own funds in the same way other cities control their own funds. While this is often a challenging role for the Federal government to play, it is an important one."

Reporter Thomas C. Hall noted the efforts to reduce the number of riders on DC’s budget, highlighted one anti-business rider that had been killed even before it reached Congressional committee, and efforts to give the District budgetary autonomy. He wrote in the Washington Business Journal ("Committee chairs act to rein in riders on D.C. budget," October 12, 2001):

"The District may lack full congressional representation, but the city has no shortage of congressional input—or meddling—when it’s budget time. …District officials have protested the practice for years, and there are signs that irrelevant riders may be riding into the sunset. For one thing, the three key committee chairs with D.C. oversight powers are sympathetic to the plea of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., for a budget process with ‘no strings attached.’ … Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., the new chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District, also has politely asked her colleagues to keep their hands off D.C. Home Rule budget items. … More telling, perhaps, were riders that were upset before making it to a committee vote, such as the one by Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., that sought to kill all District real estate deals that have taken more than one year to complete. That would include just about everything undertaken by the now-defunct Redevelopment Land Agency, such as the stalled Tivoli Theater redevelopment project at Columbia Heights and Republic Properties’ plans for an office building at the former Government Printing Office site just west of Union Station. Norton and Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md., chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee on the District, have introduced a bill to end riders’ free ride. ..."

Significant behind-the-scenes partisan disagreement continued. The Washington Post (October 22, 2001) hinted of the disagreement in an editorial entitled "Councilman or Senator?," chastising the Republican leadership for holding up the bill. It wrote,

"It would be a shame if, as rumored, the Senate Republican leadership should attempt to block floor consideration of the District’s fiscal year 2002 budget. The D.C. spending plan that cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee two weeks ago is, in several respects, an improvement over the House version. It deserves prompt passage by the full Senate, not derailment by a small band of Republican senators unhappy with how the District intends to use its own locally raised tax dollars. Unfortunately, partisanship seems to be carrying the day. In committee, only one Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, joined with all 15 Democrats to send the city‘s budget to the Senate floor. The negative votes are hard to fathom." …

Many groups and individuals lobbied the Senate—in person, by phone, and in writing—to move DC’s budget forward free of interference. For example, Laura W. Murphy, Director, and Christopher E. Anders, Legislative Counsel, of the American Civil Liberties Union, sent a "Dear Senator" letter in which they strongly urged Senators to reject all "anti-democracy" riders to DC’s bill and to allow DC’s elected officials and residents to "decide for themselves the same policy questions that each of the fifty states may debate and decide for themselves." The level of behind-the-scenes activity is difficult to track or report, however, there is little doubt that District officials and citizens mobilized a significant amount of bipartisan activity in support of local self-government.

Council Holds Hearings on Greater Judicial Autonomy—Meanwhile, the DC Council held hearings on its "Sense of the Council Regarding the Establishment of an Attorney General for the District of Columbia Resolution of 2001, PR14-34" and "Local Selection of Judges Charter Amendment Act of 2001, Bill 14-22." Copies of the legislation are at http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/ (under legislation -- search text) [and at http://www.dcwatch.com/archives/council14/14-34b.htm and http://www.dcwatch.com/archives/council14/14-22.htm]. The full Council supports both bills to amend the DC Home Rule Charter. Councilman David Catania (R), who sponsored the measure, said that having an elected Attorney General would increase the chance that Home Rule will succeed in the new period. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss suggested putting the issue to voters in referendum. Mayor Anthony Williams (D) supports both bills, but has some operational and financial concerns that could be ironed out. The Superior Court judges' bill is especially difficult because judges feel they would lose status and have a lower salary if the Mayor, instead of the President, appoints them.

Round 5--The full Senate considered the DC Appropriations bill on November 6 and 7, 2001, and asked the House for a conference to resolve differences between the House and the Senate bills. The House agreed on November 8.

At the beginning of the Senate floor debate, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said the Appropriations committee had "worked diligently to forge a partnership for progress between Congress and DC local elected leaders," and to "construct a Federal budget that supplements but not supplants the city’s efforts to fulfill its promise to enrich the lives of the citizens in the District." She discouraged amendments:

"Sometimes I think our District has been treated as a national guinea pig instead of the Nation's Capital. I hope, as we bring the bill to the floor this year, we can use new words to describe this partnership--instead of ‘partisanship,’ ‘partnership’--words such as ‘trust’ and ‘respect,’ respect for local decisionmaking, which I think is so important in this relationship with the District. … Amendments may be offered to this bill to restrict the District’s ability to use it s own locally collected tax revenues to operate specific programs hundreds of cities across this country operate. I hope those amendments will not be offered, but if they are, we will debate them with a limited time and move on so we can get this important bill passed and signed by the President. In many parts of the country, some of these issues are controversial. Throughout the entire country, the issue of the direction of local funds is something that is universally, I believe, supported."

Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), ranking member of the committee and former lieutenant governor of Ohio, continued the discussion by highlighting elements of the bill, including $16 million in funds "to provide security protection for those living and working in the District of Columbia." Senator DeWine said:

"The September 11 Pentagon tragedy and the tragedy in New York and Pennsylvania clearly demonstrated the need in every district in this country to have an integrated emergency management system in place. It certainly demonstrated that need in the District of Columbia. This funding will pay for a coordinated emergency plan for the District of Columbia in national security situations including, of course, terrorist threats, protests, natural disasters, or other unanticipated events. As a condition of receiving these funds, in this bill, we are requiring that the District develop and submit to Congress a comprehensive plan to improve security measures and procedures in the District of Columbia."

Senator George Allen (R-VA) proposed an amendment to prohibit the use of both federal and local funds to carry out needle exchange programs in the District of Columbia. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) argued the merits of defeating the amendment:

"[T]he proposal we have before us today is one of the worst. It is a proposal where we say to the District of Columbia: You cannot use your money, your taxpayers' dollars, on a public health program that you endorsed to deal with a major public health crisis in the District of Columbia. … First, those opposing the Allen amendment: The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the American Nurses Association, the American Pharmaceutical Association, the American Public Health Association. The list goes on and on and on. Every major credible public health organization that has been asked to comment on needle exchange programs has concluded they are an effective way to fight drug usage and the spread of HIV and AIDS. Let me draw the attention of the Senate to this chart. … all of these 31 States have decided this is a good way to fight drug usage and HIV/AIDS. Are we passing a law banning States around the country such as Maryland from having a needle exchange program, or Illinois? No. Only the District of Columbia, where Senators and Congressmen get to play mayor for a day. That is unfair. …  If this is such a scourge on America, as the Senator from Virginia suggests, why hasn't he offered an amendment to ban these programs nationwide? Because, frankly, it is not Congress's business to do so. Secondly, it is just plain wrong from a public health point of view. We know in these States that these programs bring people who are currently addicted into the presence of those who will give them the clean and safe needles, but also much more. …  Ninety-five percent of the programs refer clients to substance abuse treatment and counseling programs. … Why would we walk away from that? Why in the Nation's Capital would we walk away from it, where the HIV and AIDS infection is the worst in America?"

After significant discussion, the amendment was tabled. The issue would be resolved in conference committee. Del. Norton (D-DC) issued a press statement in which she said, "Until now, it seemed not to matter that the needle exchange ban sacrificed human beings in the District. The Senate’s vote today will put us in an excellent position in conference with the House. I will fight with all I’ve got to preserve the Senate position." See http://www.house.gov/norton/20011108.htm

Round 6—The Conference Committee: The appointed House and Senate conferees were:

House of Representatives: Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), John Doolittle (R-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Ernest Istook, Jr. (R-OK), Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI), Alan Mollohan (D-WV), David Obey (D-WI), John Olver (D-MA), John Sweeney (R-NY), David Vitter (R-LA), C.W. "Bill" Young (R-FL)

Senate: Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ted Stevens (R-AK)

The Conferees reinserted language that restricted all funds, both federal and local, for use in implementing DC’s drug treatment and AIDS prevention program, written as follows:

"(a) None of the funds contained in this Act may be used for any program of distributing sterile needles or syringes for the hypodermic injection of any illegal drug. (b) Any individual or entity who receives any funds contained in this Act and who carries out any program described in subsection (a) shall account for all funds used for such program separately from any funds contained in this Act."

The Conferees also reinserted what many in DC view as repugnant language that restricted funds for use in support of DC voting rights in Congress or statehood, as follows:

"Sec. 107. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), no part of this appropriation shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes or implementation of any policy including boycott designed to support or defeat legislation pending before Congress or any State legislature.

(b) The District of Columbia may use local funds provided in this Act to carry out lobbying activities on any matter other than—

(1) the promotion or support of any boycott; or

(2) statehood for the District of Columbia or voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia.

(c) Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit any elected official from advocating with respect to any of the issues referred to in subsection (b)."

The following two riders, which were carried over from 2001, relate to the new rider:

Sec. 124. None of the funds contained in this Act may be used by the District of Columbia Corporation Counsel or any other officer or entity of the District government to provide assistance for any petition drive or civil action which seeks to require Congress to provide for voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia."

Sec. 132. Nothing in this Act bars the District of Columbia Corporation Counsel from reviewing or commenting on briefs in private lawsuits, or from consulting with officials of the District government regarding such lawsuits."

Conferees also cut a rider that had been inserted by the Senate at the request of the Mayor that would have made all Antitrust, Antifraud, and Consumer Protection funds established under DC Law available to the Office of the Corporation Counsel. Conferees also cut a cap on attorneys’ fees for lawsuits filed under the Individuals With Disabilities Act, inserted in previous years to limit skyrocketing costs to the DC Public School system.

On December 5, 2001, conferees filed the Conference Report. The Appropriations bill respected the wishes of local elected officials by keeping DC’s budget request intact with $6.048 billion in local DC funds (not including capital.

During the Appropriations process, Congress added $408 million for specific uses (see Table 1, p. 28), as well as 40 riders—restrictions, mandates, and other items to micromanage local elected officials and DC residents.

Round 7—The House of Representatives: On December 6, the House considered and approved the Conference Report without further changes. During the floor debate on December 6, Members made floor statements congratulating one another and the committee staff for a job well done. Del. Norton thanked Members for their support on some items, chastised them on others, and offered a solution to end this yearly process:

"For those here for the first time, I always warn them they may feel like they are going through an out-of-body experience. Many have come out of State legislature and now somebody is telling them to look at the budget of what amounts to a State, somebody else’s budget; to ask them to vote on a local budget. It is beneath them, it really is. I am going to ask Members to vote for it and try to understand that that is what the Congress makes us do. But I want to tell this House that it is almost Christmas, and the District of Columbia has not been able to spend a single cent of its budget because this House has just gotten around to spending its money. I wonder how many would be left standing if their State, and this is the functional equivalent of a State, could not spend any of its money for 3 months into the budget year? I ask Members to put themselves, for a change, into the position of the city I represent. … I have a remedy for this … It is a budget autonomy bill that would still let this House put all their attachments on it, do all the things to the District that they will not let anybody do to their districts; but at least they would say when the District passes its budget… that they can now go ahead and spend their own money." …

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) rose in support of the bill. He blamed the Senate for the budget delay, explained the background of why the federal payment was ended in 1997, and supported greater autonomy for DC. Here is some of what he said:

"[I]t is said that the city has had to wait until December to get their appropriations. It should not have to work that way. This body passed the bill September 25. We were ready to go to conference the next day. It was the Senate, the other body, that held up this legislation. … The gentlewoman from the District of Columbia’s object here is a noble cause, and we ought to look very closely at how we can do that. Every other city in America, when they pass their budget it goes right into operation, and if the Congress has a problem with it we can step forward and say we have a problem with it. But under this protracted procedure, we end up ironically hurting a city that has a limited tax base as it is. This legislation is pretty good. … I think, by and large, this goes further in respecting District of Columbia home rule than many other appropriations bills that have come before this body. If we want democracy in this city to succeed, however, we should not continue to second-guess the mayor and the council. I disagree with some of the things that the council has done, as I do with things in my home city council and county board of supervisors do. But if we want democracy to flourish, we have to give them the responsibility and that means not constantly looking over their back."…

Spencer S. Hsu of The Washington Post reported on December 5, "Congressional leaders approved the District’s first post-control board budget last night, rolling back federal bans on disputed local initiatives such as domestic partner benefits and honoring every city funding request." Hsu quoted Mayoral spokesperson Tony Bullock, "The message Congress is sending is they believe that this city is capable of governing itself." Hsu quoted DC’s Shadow Senator Paul Strauss, "There is more money and more freedom—not enough of either, but more." Hsu noted, "The home rule advances come as warnings of future deficits gather."

Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced on December 9, 2001, that the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities (NLC) had approved a resolution in support of DC voting rights as a permanent part of its legislative agenda. http://www.washingtondc.gov/mayor/news/release.asp?id=279&mon=200112. The organization’s full membership is expected to give final approval to the measure.

Round 8—President George Bush’s signature. The President signed Public Law 107-96 on December 21, 2001. http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/appover.html

Observations and Conclusion

In 1783, the Continental Congress pledged that the future seat of government would have self-government. DC citizens have worked tirelessly since 1800 to retain their birthright, won in the Revolution. From the time he became president in 1964, Lyndon Johnson worked tirelessly for self-government for DC. According to Joseph A. Califano, Jr. in The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson, "[S]tarting with [President] Harry Truman, three presidents had routinely asked Congress for home rule for the District and, on five occasions, the Senate voted to grant it while the House failed to act."

Mr. Califano reported that President Johnson had an almost religious faith in the right to vote, and he wanted to achieve DC self-government as a personal "birthday present." He was a Texan who had lived in DC for over 30 years and understood the issues and problems with the unfair arrangement. He said, "[N]ot only as President, but as a resident, I feel very deeply the obligation to help liberate the people of this city—to extend to them the same democracy which is part of the life of the citizens of my other home in Texas." Many honorable members of Congress have spoken about honoring the basic principle of representative government, but achieving a majority is difficult unless there are at least a few leaders who are unflinching in their resolve.

President Johnson set the stage for local self-government, and a limited Home Rule bill was passed in 1973. As Colbert King explained, a compromise in Congress removed budgetary autonomy. Julius Hobson, a founder of the DC statehood movement, called the arrangement "Home Fool" and warned against such incremental compromises. Today, nearly sixty percent of DC residents want DC to become an independent state. But their wishes seem as much a distant dream now as when the idea was first discussed by Sam Smith in 1969.

The two hundred year history of the relationship between DC government and the federal government shows that as long as Congress has exclusive legislative authority as currently written, DC will not have true self-government. Only by amending the Constitution to grant DC the same rights as citizens who live in states, or by making DC a state or merging DC into a state, will DC achieve political equality.

But until DC wins her ultimate goal of full democracy and equal rights, her elected officials and citizens must do what they have always done—struggle to make their interests known and to prevent unnecessary intervention and micromanagement. In this year’s Appropriations process, Congress eventually approved DC’s proposed budget without change. However, it added forty restrictive riders.

On an unfair playing field, it is difficult to reduce taxes, improve services, and make social progress on the terrible poverty issues that DC faces. DC’s leaders sometimes hesitate to speak out, fearing criticism or retaliation by powerful members of Congress. Although most District elected officials took a low profile and did not criticize the process, they did write letters in support of their budget and some spoke out. Councilman Jack Evans (D) and Councilman David Catania (R) took higher profile positions. During the process, the Council held hearings on bills related to increasing DC’s judicial autonomy, and Congresswoman Norton introduced a budgetary autonomy bill—both signaling DC’s desire for a better balance between rights and responsibilities.

In this Appropriations process, Congress was more respectful toward DC than it has been in many years. Citizens should honor Congress for the goodwill it exhibited. But, at best, DC could consider less than 6 percent of its budget compensation for the restrictions and exemptions Congress imposes, and the demands it makes for services. How can this not increase local taxes?

Most DC business leaders and citizens did not get involved. The civic and activist community took some interest in the issue. For example, The Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition worked to draw attention to the budgeting process by launching a "Free DC Budget Campaign" and lobbying Congress with other groups.

There was no formalized working group or task force that cut across the issue areas and groups that could have coordinated and distributed timely information more effectively through various networks. Most efforts to influence Congressional decision-makers were behind-the-scenes lobbying that were issue oriented or targeted to remove or modify particular riders. For example, the domestic partnership issue mobilized many groups and individuals, both local and national. Some residents, both Republican and Democrat, have worked tirelessly to remove that restriction since 1993.

Some wonder about the effectiveness of speaking out if there is little if any media coverage of the nature of the problem and possible solutions. The national media do not consider the DC Appropriations process a national issue, and do not cover the story. National events of greater importance reduce the possibility of national coverage even further. Most local media coverage focused mainly on controversial riders, but did not comment on the deeply flawed process. There were exceptions. Colbert I. King, Deputy Editorial Page Editor of The Washington Post was the most vocal print media spokesperson. He drew attention to the flawed oversight process and called for the abolition of the Congressional oversight committees. Political commentator Mark Plotkin drew attention to the issue on WAMU’s weekly Public Interest radio program, The D.C. Politics Hour with Mark Plotkin. Reporter Thomas C. Hall broke a story about a quashed rider in the Washington Business Journal. NBC reporter Tom Sherwood covered the issue in his weekly Notebook published in The Northwest Current. And some residents—including myself—discussed the budget process in themail@dcwatch, an E-mail discussion forum on local DC politics.

What is the solution? Congress should honor the founders and the city of George Washington and treat DC fairly. Riders restricting DC from spending its own funds in support of equal voting rights in Congress or for statehood are particularly repugnant. The Senate and House conferees directed the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to "analyze the differences and similarities in municipal, state, and national government, including funding, management, oversight, and the rights of citizens, in the District of Columbia and ten other comparable national capitals." The report is due March 31, 2002. This directive indicates a willingness to examine the facts more carefully.

One way to proceed is to pass Del. Norton’s D.C. Fiscal Integrity Act of 2001, H. R. 2995: http://www.theorator.com/bills107/hr2995.html or http://thomas.loc.gov/, which will grant DC a degree of budgetary autonomy. In addition, Congress should:

  • Abolish the DC Congressional oversight committees.
  • Pass legislation to grant DC judicial and legislative autonomy.
  • Allow DC’s elected leaders to negotiate reciprocal taxing agreements with Maryland and Virginia, or to develop a new way to accomplish the same goal.
  • Offer a payment in lieu of real estate taxes (PILOT).
  • Develop a fair plan to compensate DC for the services the federal government uses, based on a fair market value.

These measures would put DC on a more level economic playing field and would put authority over local decisions on which there is no federal interest where they belong—with local elected officials.

One day, DC residents intend to win full self-government and full voting representation in Congress. This is their long-term goal. At minimum, Congress should respect this goal and remove every malicious rider intended to inhibit DC from trying to achieve what most Americans consider their God given birthright. These anti-democracy riders are unbecoming from a Congress that purports to lead the world in the movement for greater levels of representative democracy!

Back to top of page

Table 1
Federal Contribution Added During FY 2002 Appropriations Process (6% of total)

1. Emergency Planning and Security Costs - $16 million (of which $3.4 million is to reimburse DC for World Bank/IMF security expenses; DC must work with federal and regional security agencies to develop an integrated operations plan by Jan. 2, 2002, and must submit a detailed report of expenditures. The CFO must also provide quarterly reports to oversight committees beginning April 2, 2002)

2. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department - $500,000 for dry-docking the Fire Boat)

3. Chief Medical Examiner - $585,000 (for reduction in backlog of autopsies, case reports and for the purchase of toxicology and histology equipment)

4. Tuition support for DC residents who attend out-of-District public institutions of higher education - $17 million (not more than 7% may be used for administration)

5. DC Courts - $112 million for salaries and expenses ($8 million for Court of Appeals; $66 million for DC Superior Court; $32 million for the DC Court System; $6.5 million for capital improvements to DC courthouse facilities)

6. DC Corrections Trustee Operations - $30.2 million (for the administration and operation of correctional facilities and for administrative operating costs)

7. DC Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency - $147.3 million ($94.1 million for Community Supervision and Sex Offender Registration; $20.8 million transferred to the Public Defender Service; $32.3 million for Pretrial Service Agency; the Director may acquire and renovate as necessary Building Number 17 at 1900 Mass. Ave. SE for offenders and defendants)

8. Defender Services in DC Courts - $34.3 million (available until expended)

9. Court Appointed Special Advocates - $250,000 (to expand their work in the Family Court of the DC Superior Court)

10. Family Court - $24 million ($23.3 million for Superior Court and $700,000 for the Mayor of which $200,000 is for completion of a plan for integrating the computer systems of the DC government with the Family Court of the Superior Court; Mayor must submit a plan to the President and the Congress within 6 months)

11. City Administrator - $300,000 (for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council)

12. DC Public Schools - $2.5 million (of which $2 million is to implement the Voyager Expanded Learning literacy program in kindergarten and first grade classrooms, $250,000 for Failure Free Reading literacy program for non-readers and special education students, $250,000 for Failure Free Reading literacy program for non-readers and special education students; $200,000 for Lightspan, Inc. to implement the eduTest.com program)

13. Thurgood Marshall Academy Charter School - $1 million to acquire and renovate an educational facility in Anacostia

14. Incentives for Adoption of Children - $5 million (funds from the FY 2000 budget to remain available through September 2003 to carry out provision of title 38 of FY2001 Budget Support Act of 2000 as amended except for section 3808, provided that $1 million be used for establishing a scholarship fund for DC children of adoptive families and DC children without parents due to the September 11 terrorist attack to be used for post high school education and training)St. Coletta of Greater Washington Expansion Project - $2 million (for costs to establish a day program and comprehensive case management services for mentally retarded and multiple-handicapped adolescents and adults in DC, including property acquisition and construction)

15. Children’s National Medical Center - $5.5 million (of which $5 million is for capital and equipment improvements, and $500,000 for the network of satellite pediatric health clinics for children and families in underserved neighborhoods and communities of DC)

16. Southeastern University - $500,000 (for public/private partnership with McKinley Technical High School campus)

17. Capitol City Career Development and Job Straining Partnership - $500,000

18. Capitol Education Fund - $500,000

19. Metropolitan Kappa Youth Development Foundation - $450,000

20. Youth Life Foundation - $250,000 (for technical assistance, operational expenses, and establishment of a National Training Institute)

21. Faith and Politics Institute - $50,000 (for grass roots-based racial sensitivity programs in DC)

22. George Washington University Center for Excellence in Municipal Management - $250,000 (to increase enrollment of managers from DC government)

23. DC and Federal Law Enforcement Mobile Wireless Interoperability Project - $1.4 million ($400,000 for the Chief Technology Officer, $333,334 for the U.S. Secret Service, $333,333 for the U.S. Capitol Police, and $333,333 for the U.S. Park Police, provided each participates and files a joint report on resource allocation and each agencies’ resource commitment for 2003 with Congressional appropriations committees by March 30, 2002)

24. Chief Financial Officer - $8.3 million ($2.25 million for a pilot project to demonstrate the "Active Cap" river cleanup technology on the Anacostia River; $500,000 for Washington DC Sports and Entertainment Commission in coordination with U.S. Soccer Foundation for environmental and infrastructure costs at Kenilworth Park in the creation of Kenilworth Regional Sports Complex; $600,000 for One Economy Corporation to increase Internet access to low-income homes; $500,000 to Langston Project for the 21st Century to improve physical education and training facilities; $1 million to the Green Door Program for capital improvements at a community mental health clinic; $500,000 to the Historical Society of Washington for capital improvements to the new City Museum; $200,000 for Teach for America DC for teacher development; $350,000 for DC Safe Kids Coalition to promote child passenger safety through Child Occupant Protection Initiative; $50,000 for renovations at Eastern Market; $1 million for Excel Institute Adult Education Program to construct and acquire construction services by the GSA on a reimbursable basis; $300,000 to Woodlawn Cemetery for restoration; $250,000 to the Real World Schools concerning 21st Century reform models for secondary education and the use of technology to support learning in DC; $300,000 for a mentoring program and for hotline services; $250,000 to a youth development program with a character building curriculum; and $250,000 to a basic values training program)

25. Food and Friends - $2 million (for their Capital Campaign)

Back to top of page

Table 2:
Summary Of Riders Added or Retained By Congress on DC’s FY 2002 Budget

The FY 2002 budget shows 40 riders (General Provisions Sections), some of which were first attached to DC’s budget in 1973, as the District was transiting to elected officials for the first time after a century of rule by unelected commissioners appointed by the President. This is a reduction of about 30 riders that had been part of the FY 2001 budget (see Table 3). Following is a summary of the riders added to DC’s FY 2002 budget. For exact language and more detail, see the Appropriations bill. I have classified the riders into the following categories:

A. Legal overrides and social restrictions ("social riders")

B. Budgetary controls and operating and reporting requirements

C. Contracting restrictions

D. DC government and employee restrictions and powers

E. Educational and school restrictions

F. Riders Requested of Congress by the DC Government


1. No funds may be used by the DC Commission on Human Rights to defend its position regarding the right of non-activist gays to serve in the Boy Scouts. No funds [federal or local] can be used to issue, administer, or enforce any order by the DC Commission on Human Rights relating to docket number 93-030-(pa) and 93-031-(pa). (Sec. 139)

2. No federal funds can be used for Congressional offices established under DC Statehood Constitutional Convention Initiatives of 1979 (DC’s "shadow" Senators and Representative). (Sec. 116)

3. No federal funds may be used for publicity or propaganda purposes or implementation of any policy including boycott designed to support or defeat legislation pending before Congress or any State legislature. DC funds may be used to carry out lobbying activities on any matter other than the promotion or support of any boycott, DC statehood, or DC voting representation in Congress. However, nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit any elected official from advocating boycotts, statehood, or voting rights (Sec. 107)

4. No funds may be used to by DC Corporation Counsel or any other officer or entity of DC government to provide assistance for any petition drive or civil action which seeks to require Congress to provide for DC voting representation in Congress. (Sec. 124)

5. DC Corporation Counsel is allowed to review and comment on briefs in private lawsuits and may consult with DC government officials about such lawsuits. (Sec. 132)

6. No funds may be used for partisan activities. No funds may be used for educational institutions, compensation of personnel, or for other educational purposes to permit, encourage, facilitate, or further partisan political activities. This does not prohibit the use of school buildings for community or partisan political groups during non-school hours. (Sec. 105)

7. No funds may be used for abortions, except where the life of the mother would be endangered or in cases of rape or incest. (Sec. 117)

8. No federal funds may be used to implement DC’s domestic partnership law. No federal funds may be used to implement Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 for cohabiting couples, or to implement or enforce any system of registration of unmarried, cohabiting couples, including but not limited to registration for the purpose of extending employment, health, or governmental benefits to such couples on the same basis that such benefits are extended to legally married couples. (Sec. 118)

9. No funds may be used for a sterile needle or syringe exchange program to reduce the spread of AIDS (and recruit candidates for drug treatment). No funds may be used for preventing AIDS using the sterile needle or syringe distribution program amongst drug abusers. Any individual or entity who receives any funds contained in this Act and who carries out any program described above must account for the portion supported by DC funds separately from other funds. (Sec. 125)

10. No funds may be used to implement Initiative 59, approved by DC voters, to allow medical doctors to prescribe marijuana as medical treatment to patients. No funds may be used to enact or carry out any program to legalize or reduce penalties associated with possession, use, or distribution of any Schedule I substance for the purpose of medical treatment. The Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998, also know as Initiative 59, approved by the electors of DC on November 3, 1998, shall not take effect. (Sec. 127)

11. A conscience clause must be included in any legislation the Council and Mayor might pass requiring contraceptive coverage by health insurance plans. The Council and Mayor may require health insurance plans to cover contraceptives, but it is the intent of Congress that any legislation enacted should include a "conscience clause" with exceptions for religious beliefs and moral convictions. (Sec. 128)

12. The federal government will grant MPDC $100,000 for enforcement purposes when it passes a law banning possession of tobacco by those less than 18 years old. The federal government will grant the DC police department $100,000 effective when DC passes a law banning the possession of tobacco products by minors. Those delivering cigarettes for their work and those participating in law enforcement operations are exempted. Penalties include community service or a tobacco cessation program, up to a $50 fine for first violation, up to a $100 fine for the next violation, and suspension of driving privileges for 90 consecutive days for a third and subsequent violation. (Sec. 130)


13. Whenever an amount is specified for particular purposes, that will be the maximum amount that can be spent that that purpose, rather than an amount set apart exclusively therefore. (Sec. 101)

14. No funds provided to DC or federal agencies that remain available for obligation or expenditure in FY 2002, or provided from any accounts in the U.S. Treasury from the collection of fees available to agencies funded by this Act, shall be available for obligation or expenditure for an agency through a reprogramming of funds which: (1) creates new programs; (2) eliminates a program, project, or responsibility center; (3) establishes or changes allocations specifically denied, limited or increased by Congress in this Act; (4) increases funds or personnel by any means for any program, project, or responsibility center for which funds have been denied or restricted; (5) reestablishes through reprogramming any program or project previously deferred through reprogramming; (6) augments existing programs, projects, or responsibility centers through a reprogramming of funds in excel of $1 million, or 10 percent whichever is less; or (7) increases by 20 percent or more personnel assigned to a specific program, project or responsibility center; unless the Committees on Appropriations of both the Senate and the House are notified in writing 30 days in advance. None of DC funds may be available for obligation or expenditure for an agency through a transfer of local funds from one appropriation heading to another unless the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House are notified in writing 30 days in advance, except that in no event my the amount of any funds transferred exceed four percent of the local funds in this Act (Sec. 109)

15. Funds may be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law. (Sec. 110)

16. No money in DC’s budget bill shall remain available for obligation beyond the current fiscal year, unless expressly stated. (Sec. 104)

17. The Mayor must submit to Congress an annual plan with capital outlay borrowings and spending compared to projections. At the start of the fiscal year, the Mayor must develop an annual plan, by quarter and by project, for capital outlay borrowings, and the Mayor must report to the Council and Congress within a reasonable time after each quarter on the actual borrowings and spending compared to projections. (Sec. 108)

18. The Mayor must submit to the Council new FY 2002 revenue estimates no later than 30 days after the end of the first quarter of FY 2002 for use in the FY 2003 budget request. Officially revised estimates at midyear must be used for the midyear report. (Sec. 112)

19. DC must submit a realigned budget to Congress within one month after Congress revises DC’s budget. Within 30 days after the budget bill is passed, DC’s Chief Financial Officer must submit a revised appropriated funds operating budget for all agencies of DC government to Congressional committees, the Mayor, and the Council. (Sec. 135)

20. Public Law 104-8 (DC Financial Responsibility and Management Assistant Act of 1995) is amended. The DC budget must have a budget reserve in 2002 ($120,000,000) and 2003 ($70,000,000). Money will remain available until expended. In addition to other reserves required under section 450A of the DC Home Rule Art, for both 2004 and 2005, the DC budget will contain a cumulate cash reserve of $50,000,000. Money in the reserve can be expended under the following conditions: (1) the CFO must certify that the money is available, (2) the amounts must be obligated or spent in accordance with laws enacted by the Council in support of each expenditure, (3) the amounts may not be obligated or spent to fund DC government agencies under court ordered receivership, (4) the mayor must notify the Congressional appropriations committees in writing 30 days in advance. Any amount expended in one year must be replenished the following year. Also, a contingency cash reserve fund (separate from other accounts in the General Fund) into which the Mayor must deposit no later than October 1 of each fiscal year the amount required to maintain a balance of at least 3 percent of the total budget appropriated for operating expenditures from local funds. (Sec. 133)

21. The Mayor must submit to Congressional oversight committees quarterly reports addressing the following: crime (including the homicide rate, implementation of community policing, the number of police officers on local beats, and the closing down of open-air drug markets); access to drug abuse treatment (including the number of treatment slots, the number of people served, the number on waiting lists, the effectiveness of treatment programs); management of parolees and pre-trial violent offenders (including the number of halfway house escapes and steps taken to improve monitoring and supervision of halfway house residents to reduce the number of escapes); education (including access to special education services and student achievement to be provided in consultation with the DC Public Schools); improvement in basic District services (including rat control and abatement); application for and management of federal grants (including the number and type of grants for which the District was eligible but failed to apply and the number and type of grants awarded to the District but which the District failed to spend the amounts received); and indicators of child well-being. (Sec. 131)

22. There are appropriated from the applicable DC funds the needed amount to make refunds and for the payment of legal settlements or judgments that have been entered against the DC government. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed as modifying or affecting the provisions of section 11(c)(3) of title XII of the DC Income and Franchise Tax Act of 1947. (Sec. 103)

23. In the event a sequestration order is issued pursuant to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, after the amounts appropriated to DC for the fiscal year involved have been paid to DC, the Mayor shall pay to the Secretary of the Treasury within 15 days after receipt of a request from the Secretary the amount sequestered by the order. The sequestration percentage shall be applied proportionately to each of the Federal appropriation amounts in this Act that are not specifically exempted from sequestration by such Act. Definitions are clarified related to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. (Sec. 114)

24. DC Superior Court and the DC Court of Appeals must pay interest for delayed payments. If these bodies do not make a payment [as described in this Sec.] prior to the expiration of the 45-day period which begins on the date the Court receives a completed voucher for a claim for the payment, interest shall be assessed against the amount of the payment which would otherwise be made to take into account the period which begins on the day after the expiration of such 45-day period and which ends on the day the Court makes the payment. Standards for submission for completed vouchers are established. (Sec. 129)


25. No sole source contracts may be renewed or extended without competitive biding, unless not feasible or practical, as determined by the CFO. (Sec. 113)

26. DC officers and employees, excluding the CTO, the CFO, and MPD, must do an analysis for any contract over $2,500. No officer or DC government employee may enter into an agreement in excess of $2,500 for the procurement of goods or services on behalf of any DC government entity until they have done an analysis to determine the difference in cost and time between their method compared to the cost of procuring the goods and services under the federal supply system. (Sec. 120(c).)


27. All DC government officers (including independent agencies) must certify with Mayor and CFO that they know what their job is, including restrictions, and list the required reports and due dates quarterly. DC may not pay the salary of any chief financial officer of any DC government office unless he has filed a certification with the Mayor and CFO that he understands his duties and restrictions. The CFO must prepare for the Congressional appropriations committees by the 10th day after the end of each quarter a summary list of required reports, due dates, and date submitted to the Committees. (Sec. 126)

28. DC government employees whose information is not listed for Congressional inspection may not be paid. No funds may be used to pay any DC government employee whose name, title, grade, and salary, are not available for inspection by Congressional oversight committees (the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, the Subcommittee on the District of Columbia of the House Committee on Government Reform, the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government, Management, Restructuring and the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs), and the Council of the District of Columbia, or their duly authorized representative. (Sec. 106)

29. The Inspector Generals’ office controls funding for independent audits. No funds may be used for an annual audit of DC financial statements unless they are conducted or contracted by the Inspector General, in consultation with the CFO, following the DC Procurement Practices Act of 1985. The audit must include a basic financial statement and a comparison of projected versus audited actual yearend results. (Sec. 123)

30. The Mayor or the chair of the Council must authorize travel expenses and dues for organizations related to official DC government business. (Sec. 102)

31. Official DC government vehicles may only be used during working hours. This does not include the Mayor or the Chair of the Council. Official business does not include travel to and from their home and workplace—unless a police officer who resides in DC or is designated by the Chief of Police; at the discretion of the Fire Chief or an officer or employee of the DC Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services who lives in DC and is on 24-hour call. The CFO must submit to Congress an inventory of all vehicles owned, leased, or operated by the DC government, information about the state of each vehicle, the mileage reading, annual operating and maintenance costs, and the names and addresses of the individuals who have exemptions to use vehicles. (Sec. 120)

32. DC government entities, including independent agencies, may accept gifts or donations to carry out authorized functions or duties or if the Mayor gives approval. The Council, the DC courts, and the DC Board of Education, do not need approval from the Mayor. Detailed and accurate public records must be kept and available for audit and public inspection. (Sec. 115)

33. The Mayor, in consultation with the CFO, may accept, obligate, and expend Federal, private, and other grants received by the DC government that are not reflected in the amounts appropriated in this Act. No funds may be accepted, obligated, or spent until the CFO submits to the Council a report setting forth detailed information regarding such grant, and the Council has reviewed and approved within 15 calendar days after receipt of the report submitted. No money may be obligated or spent in anticipation of approval. The CFO must prepare and submit to the Council and the Congressional appropriations committees (no later than 15 days after the end of the quarter covered) a quarterly report setting forth detailed information regarding all Federal, private, and other grants subject to this section. (Sec. 119)

34. DC must comply with the Buy American Act. All entities receiving funds from DC’s budget appropriation must comply with the Buy American Act. (Sec. 122)

35. The provision of DC Government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act of 1978 applies for compensating DC employees. For pay purposes, DC government employees are not subject to certain federal civil service laws (Title 5, US Code). Not later than 45 days after the end of each fiscal year, the CTO shall prepare and submit to the Council and to the Congressional appropriations committees a repot describing all agreements entered into by the CTO under this section. The authority which the CFO exercised with respect to personnel, procurement, and the preparation of fiscal impact statements during a control period shall remain in effect through July 1, 2002. (Sec. 111)

36. No funds may be used for an Integrated Product Team until reorganization plans for the IPT and a Capital Construction Services Administration have been approved, or deemed approved, by the Council. This does not apply to funds appropriated for the Office of Contracting and Procurement. (Sec. 134)


37. Special education students must be evaluated within 120 days of referral and placed. The DCPS must evaluate or assess a student who may have a disability and who may require special education services within 120 days of referral. Those students who can be classified as having a disability must be placed in an appropriate special education program. (Sec. 121)

38. No funds may be used to pay attorneys’ fees accrued prior to the effective date of this Act that exceeds a cap imposed on the attorneys’ fees by prior appropriations Acts that were in effect during the fiscal year when the work was performed, or when payment was requested for work previously performed, in an action or proceeding brought against the DC Public Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. No later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Superintendent of DC Public Schools must submit to the Congressional appropriations committees a written report for 1999, 2000, and 2001, detailing a complete itemized list, by year, of the judgments for attorneys’ fees awarded to plaintiffs who prevailed in cases brought against the DC public schools under the Disabilities Act. The report will specify (1) the amount of each judgment; (2) the total amount paid on each judgment as of the date of the report; (3) the principal balance remaining due on each such judgment as of the date of the report, the amount of interest due as of December 31, 2001 on each unpaid amount, and the prospective annual rate of interest applicable to the judgment as of January 1, 2002; (4) the name of the Court and case number for each judgment; (5) the aggregate total due in principal and interest on the judgments; and (6) the amount paid by DC, in each case listed, to defense counsel representing the DC Public Schools. (Sec. 140)


39. The Council Chairman’s salary is increased under a formula. The Home Rule Act is amended so that the Chairman of the DC Council will receive compensation, payable in equal installments, at a rate equal to $10,000 less than the annual compensation of the Mayor. (Sec. 136)

40. Risk management for settlements and judgments. In addition to any other authority to pay claims and judgments, any department, agency, or instrumentality of the District government may pay the settlement or judgment of a claim or lawsuit in an amount less than $10,000, in accordance with the Risk Management for Settlements and Judgments Amendment Act of 2000, effective October 19, 2000. (Sec. 137)

41. To waive the period of Congressional review of the Closing of Portions of 2nd and N Streets, NE and Alley System in Square 710, S.O. 00-97, Act of 2001. (Sec. 138)

Back to top of page

Table 3:
Summary Of Riders Cut From DC’s FY 2002 Budget


1. A privately funded needle exchange program to reduce the spread of AIDS may not be operated within 1,000 feet of a school. It shall be unlawful for any person to distribute any needle or syringe for the hypodermic injection of any illegal drug in any area of DC which is within 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary or secondary school. Approved sites are listed. The Executive Director of the Housing Authority must submit reports to the Congressional committees with information ascertaining if there are any concerns about the needle exchange program by public housing residents. If police or a significant number of residents recommend moving the site, the DC government will take action.

2. No funds (federal or local) may be used to implement DC’s domestic partnership law. No funds may be used to implement Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 for cohabiting couples, or to implement or enforce any system of registration of unmarried, cohabiting couples (whether homosexual, heterosexual, or lesbian), including but not limited to registration for the purpose of extending employment, health, or governmental benefits to such couples on the same basis that such benefits are extended to legally married couples.


3. The DC government must conduct its financial management in accordance with a comprehensive financial management policy. The DC Home Rule Act is amended requiring the CFO to submit a financial management policy to the Mayor no later than April 1, 2001 for review and modification, after which it will go to the Council by May 1, 2001, who will submit it to the Control Board for a 30-day review. They will submit it to Congressional oversight committees and the policy shall take effect 30 days after it is submitted. The comprehensive financial management policy shall include a cash management policy, a debt management policy, a financial asset management policy, an emergency reserve management policy, a contingency reserve management policy, and a policy for determining real property tax exemptions. The CFO must review the policy at the end of the fiscal year and submit proposed changes to the Mayor no later than July 1 of each year and submit any changes to the Council no later than August 1 of each year, and submit any changes to Congressional oversight committees by September 1 of each year.

4. The Mayor must submit to Congress revised revenue estimates no later than 30 days after the end of the first quarter for use in the following year’s budget request. Official midyear estimates will be used for the midyear report.

5. The Control Board must approve the DC Public Schools and UDC’s budgets. The Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (Control Board) shall vote on and approve the annual budgets of DC Public Schools and the University of DC prior to submission in Mayor’s annual budget before it is submitted to the Council.

6. DC must audit the DC Highway Trust Fund and report to Congress yearly. The Inspector General, no later than February 1 each year, shall audit the DC Highway Trust Fund for the preceding fiscal year. The Inspector General shall examine statements forecasting the Trust Fund for the next five fiscal years and report to Congress.

7. DC must follow specific reporting requirements before leasing new government property. Neither the DC government nor independent agencies of the DC government may rent property for its use under a lease unless the lease and an abstract of the lease has been filed with the central office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, in an indexed registry available for public inspection. Additional, this information must be included in periodic reports to the Mayor, Council, and Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and Senate describing specific information.

8. DC must develop and implement a plan for managing DC’s real property assets. No funds may be used for leases and real property purchases unless certain conditions are met, including: the Mayor, Council, and Congressional Committees must certify that there is a need beyond that which exists; the Mayor and Council will periodically survey all District property to determine if there is surplus; the Mayor must periodically sell surplus properties which the majority of the Council agree are surplus; the Mayor and Council—within 60 days after Congress approves the budget—must provide a comprehensive report on the management of DC real property assets and implementation of the plan.

9. In budgeting, DC must report to Congress on its management savings projections and outcomes. DC must submit to Congress a list of potential adjustments to the budget that might be necessary due to the inability of management to save money where they thought they would.

10. The Home Rule Act is amended to establish a contingency reserve fund as an interest-bearing account (separate from other accounts in the General Fund) into which the Mayor must deposit no later than October 1st (beginning with year 2005) the amount required to maintain a balance of at least 3 percent of the total budget appropriated for operating expenditures. Minimum emergency reserve balance and applicable percentages are defined. Interest must remain in the fund and can only be withdrawn for specific reasons to be developed by the CFO in consultation with the Mayor, including but not limited to nonrecurring or unforeseen needs that arise during the fiscal year, including expenses associated with unforeseen weather or other natural disasters, unexpected obligations created by Federal law or new public safety or health needs or requirements. The fund may be used to cover revenue shortfalls for three consecutive months (based on a two month rolling average) that are 5 percent or more believe the budget forecast. It may not be used to fund shortfalls in any projected reductions that are included in the budget. Allocations may be made only after an analysis has been prepared by the CFO. DC must appropriate sufficient funds each fiscal year to replenish amounts used to maintain 3 percent of the total budget. The CFO must submit a quarterly report to the Mayor, Council, Control Board and Congressional committees.

11. Public Housing Police of the DC Housing Authority must prepare and submit to the Executive Director of the Housing Authority a monthly report on illegal drug activity at or near any public housing site where a needle exchange program is conducted. The Executive Director must submit these reports to Congressional committees.

12. DC must explain non-descriptive terms in all budget documents. Budget reports containing a category of activities labeled with a non-descriptive term, such as "other" or "miscellaneous," must include a description of activities and a detailed breakdown of costs for each activity.


13. Except in the case of an emergency as defined, the public charter schools must publish notices of contracts over $25,000 in the DC Register and newspapers of general circulation no less than 7 days before awarding the contract. This does not apply to any contract for the lease or purchase of real property by a public charter school, any employment contract for a staff member of a public charter school, or any management contract entered into by a public charter school and the management company designated in its charter or its petition for a revised charter.


14. After the Mayor appoints or dismisses a Chief Financial Officer, and the Council approves of his or her decision, Congressional oversight committees must review this decision. The DC Home Rule Act is amended so that after the Council confirms the appointment or dismissal of the Chief Financial Officer, his name will be submitted to the Congressional oversight committees for a 30-day review and comment period before the appointment takes effect. CFO’s job duties specified.

15. The Mayor must report to Congress an index of all employment personnel and consulting contracts, including the severance clause of each contract, and until indexed, no payment shall be made.

16. Employees of the DC government will only receive compensation for overtime in excess of 40 hours per week.

17. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 will be amended. This will provide that employees of the Trustee will be treated as federal employees under certain provisions of Title V, US Code, including retirement, life and health insurance.

18. The Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) may implement and administer its Drug Free Workplace Program for employment applicants.

19. DC must pay interest on late payments to court appointed attorneys.

20. Amend Sec. 158(b) of PL 106-113 to read that $5 million earmarked for transportation project.

21. DC cannot transfer high security prisoners to its Youngstown, Ohio facility. No funds may be used to move DC prisons classified above the medium security level (defined by the Federal Bureau of Prisons) to the private facility in Youngstown, Ohio for DC prisoners.

22. Congress remains concerned about the quality of care provided to patients at Saint Elizabeths Hospital. Congress urges the dc government to implement performance improvement measures, including the development of partnerships between the District and private entities, to improve the quality of care provided to Saint Elizabeths hospital patients.

23. The Mayor is granted leasing authority over Marina and fish wharf. The Mayor is given exclusive authority to approve and execute leases of the Washington Marina and the Washington municipal fish wharf for an initial term of 30 years.

24. Court-appointed receivers control their portion of the DC budget. Court-appointed receivers or other count-appointed officials over any departments or agencies of the DC government must prepare and submit a budget to be included in DC’s annual budget submission. The Council and Mayor may make recommendations, but have no authority to revise estimates.

25. The Council may delegate authority over Tobacco Settlement Money. The Home Rule Act is amended so that the Council may delegate authority to the DC Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation the authority of the Council to issue revenue bonds, notes, and other obligations used to borrow money to finance or assist in financing or refinancing capital projects and other undertakings payable solely from and secured by payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement.

26. Administrator of EPA not prohibited form cooperative agreements and grants authorized by law which effect real property of the federal government.


27. The University of the District of Columbia and the Superintendent of the DC Public Schools must submit a quarterly report to Congressional oversight committees, no later than 15 calendar days after the end of each quarter, laying out (1) current quarter expenditures and obligations, year-to-date expenditures and obligations, and total fiscal year expenditure projections versus budget broken out of the basis of control center, responsibility center, and object class, and for all funds, non-appropriated funds, and capital financing; (2) a list of each account for which spending is frozen and the amount of funds frozen, broken out by control center, responsibility center, detailed object, and for all funding sources; (3) a list of all active contracts over $10,000 yearly; (4) all reprogramming requests submitted to the Board of Education; (5) all reprogramming that has been made in compliance with law; (6) an updated organizational chart showing previous and current structures. In addition, each must prepare an accurate and verifiable report on positions and employees. Specific reporting formats must be followed.

28. A public charter school which offers a preschool or prekindergarten program is subject to the same child care licensing requirements (if any) which apply to a DC public school which offers such a program.

29. No funds may be used to pay an attorney representing a winning party against the DC Public Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act if the hourly rate exceeds a specified amount and in no case may the total exceed $2,500.

30. Congress encourages the Control Board to sell DC school property. It is the sense of the Congress that the Control Board should quickly sell the Franklin School property which has been vacant for over 20 years.

31. Credit enhancement fund for public charter schools. $5 million set aside.

32. Transfer of property south of Silverbrook Road to Fairfax County for educational purposes (DC’s Lorton Prison land).

33. Meadowood Farm land exchange (Lorton property north of Silverbrook Road).

Back to top of page

Send mail with questions or comments to webmaster@dcwatch.com
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)