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D.C. Appropriations Bill One Vote Closer

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By Kate Sheehy

The U.S. Senate has followed the lead of the House... by passing the D.C. Appropriations bill without any riders restricting how the city can spend its money.

The bill passed yesterday clears the way for the District to allow medical marijuana use, approved by voters in 1998 but subsequently banned by Congress. It also frees the District to spend local tax dollars to help low-income women pay for abortions.

A federal law bars the District and states from using federal money to pay for abortions, but states can use local tax dollars. Supporters of abortion rights say private donations have helped, but they say that many women were turned away from clinics because the District government did not have enough money.

The bill would also allow the city's needle exchange programs to continue.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is celebrating the passage of the bill...calling it "the biggest win for home rule in the District in decades."

President Obama is expected to sign the bill this week.

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