D.C. Lawmakers Consider Defying Congress, Operating During Shutdown | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

D.C. Lawmakers Consider Defying Congress, Operating During Shutdown

The D.C. Council may pursue a work-around which will allow them to keep city workers on the job.
Larry Miller: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drmillerlg/1246397248/
The D.C. Council may pursue a work-around which will allow them to keep city workers on the job.

The District government is bracing for a potential federal government shutdown. In the past, that could mean the partial loss of trash pickup and many other city services. Now lawmakers are mulling a plan to defy Congress and keep the city government open.

A spokesperson for D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson confirms that a bill will be introduced next Tuesday deeming all city government employees "essential personnel."

Because the District government is treated as a federal agency under the law, only essential, life-saving city services like police, the fire department and public schools, are allowed to stay open during a federal government shutdown. That means everything else in D.C., including libraries, trash pickup and recreation centers gets halted.

By designating all workers and services "essential," though, the city theoretically can operate business as usual.

The plan has the support of a number of legislators, and Mayor Vince Gray himself said he would be willing to go along with the plan if the Council backed it. One skeptic, though, is D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan, who says that it would violate federal law and put officials at risk of arrest.

"That's a risky business and it has the potential to violate the Anti-Deficiency Act, [and] that carries criminal penalties with it," Nathan says.

Nathan says he fears that any attempts to bypass Congress could backfire, costing D.C. autonomy. In April the city's voters endorsed a referendum allowing the city more flexibility in spending its own money, though Congress has cast a skeptical eye on the measure, which goes into effect in January.

Some Council members insist that a fight, with the risk of arrests, fines and the attention it might bring, could help highlight D.C.'s plight.

"D.C. is the only local jurisdiction impacted in this manner and one thing is true, if D.C. were San Antonio, there would be a battle at the Alamo over this," said Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) in a statement.

Nathan, who before becoming attorney general was the House of Representatives' top lawyer, remains skeptical.

"I would point out they have taken oath to uphold the law, and if you engage in civil disobedience you have to take the consequences and the victims of the consequences could as well be the District," he says.

NPR

'Passages' Author Reflects On Her Own Life Journey

Gail Sheehy is famous for her in-depth profiles of influential people, as well as her 1976 book on common adult life crises. Now she turns her eye inward, in her new memoir Daring: My Passages.
NPR

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR's Scott Simon, it did not go well.
NPR

Texas Gubernatorial Candidates Go To The Border To Court Voters

Republicans have won every statewide office in Texas for 20 years, but the growing Hispanic population tends to vote Democrat, and the GOP's survival may depend on recruiting Hispanic supporters.
NPR

In San Diego, A Bootcamp For Data Junkies

Natasha Balac runs a two-day boot camp out of the San Diego Supercomputer Center for people from all types of industries to learn the tools and algorithms to help them analyze data and spot patterns in their work.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.