D.C. voting rights activists are once again on edge as the U.S. Senate considers the District's funding bill today. Earlier this year, Mayor Vincent Gray and other city leaders were arrested for protesting Congress' imposition of policy directives in such bills.
Later today, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee will consider legislation that could affect the 2012 budget for the District of Columbia.
Senators have one last chance to offer amendments to the Financial Services and Government Appropriations bill, which helps fund the District government, before sending it for a vote in the full Senate. D.C. voting rights activists are concerned that some Republican senators may follow the lead of the GOP-dominated House of Representatives and introduce an abortions prohibition in the Senate version of the bill.
A House version of the same bill included such social riders, including abortion restrictions.
Those activists have been lobbying the committee and urging the senators to permit the District to use locally collected tax funds so low income women can have access to abortions. They argue many local jurisdictions, including 17 other states, already do the same. Congress stripped the District of the right to use city funds to support abortions for underprivileged women was in a federal budget deal struck in April that helped avoid a government shutdown.
In the way of funding, the draft Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill for 2012 includes nearly $123 million for the District, including $90 million for education and school improvement.
There’s also an additional $65 million for construction projects, much of that may be used to continue work on the Department of Homeland Security headquarters, one of the biggest construction projects in the District.
The markup is scheduled for this afternoon.