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Issa Proposes D.C. Budget Autonomy, With A Catch

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is now offering the District a budget autonomy deal, but city leaders aren't biting just yet.
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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is now offering the District a budget autonomy deal, but city leaders aren't biting just yet.

Unlike every other city and state in the nation, the District’s budget must be approved by Congress. Now, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is proposing to fix that, but at city leaders are finding out, there’s a price.

Issa’s measure would let D.C. pass its budget without explicit Congressional approval, but as part of the deal, the city would be banned from spending local dollars on abortions.

The last time Congress passed a similar restriction -- it was one of the concessions Democrats made during the government shutdown negotiations in April -- there was instant outrage from local leaders.

Hundreds of residents rallied in the street next to U.S. Capitol, ultimately leading to the arrest of dozens of people, including Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chair Kwame Brown. But this time around, the response by D.C.’s top officials has been much different.

Both Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Brown issued statements saying they're reviewing the proposal, and neither voiced a concern about the abortion ban. City activists aren't so neutral, however. 

"This bill is the wrong bill," says Illyr Zherka, who heads the advocacy group DC VOTE. "If Darrell Issa wants to support D.C. residents and bring about budget autonomy, then he ought to do it directly without any strings attached."

The mayor's office released a statement late last night saying Gray will review the bill, adding that he is "aware the pro-life movement placed a lot of pressure on Congressman Issa to continue the prohibition on using local dollars for abortion."

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