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D.C. Mayor Decries Congressional Budget Deal

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D.C. Mayor Vince Gray, once a supporter of the underground Metro Station at Dulles Airport now says it's too expensive.
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D.C. Mayor Vince Gray, once a supporter of the underground Metro Station at Dulles Airport now says it's too expensive.

It was "shocking," Gray said of the deal, which includes prohibitions on District funding for abortions and a reinstatement of a school voucher program. The final legislation being drafted this week may also prevent D.C. from funding a needle-exchange program.

Despite the avoidance of a federal government shutdown District leaders aren't exactly applauding the results.

Gray says the fact that Democrats made this compromise affecting D.C. is "hugely disappointing."

"Typically ... the Democrats have been in support of D.C. and Republicans have supported doing whatever was necessary if it meant trampling on the District's rights," Gray said. "Now it appears we've got both parties in a situation where they are not respecting the District's rights."

The District should be able to administer its programs as it sees fit, Gray added.

"The needle exchange program has proven to be very effective. Why should we be prohibited from spending our money on a program proven to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS?" Gray asked.

"Why should we have foisted upon us a voucher program," he continued. "Those are decisions that should be made by the people in this city."

"If we choose to spend our money, as many cities do, on abortions for needy women, those are decisions should be made at local level," he added.

He pointed out that none of the riders that restrict the District's activities will have an impact on the dollar amount of the budget.

"The social riders had nothing to do with the budget outcome," Gray said.

District residents and leaders will be rallying outside the Hart Senate Office Building at 5 p.m. today to protest the budget deal's impacts on D.C.

"This is the moment when hopefully the District citizenry realizes how shabbily we’ve been treated," Gray said. "It’s just time we stand up for the District’s rights."

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