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house Bill H.R. 5233

Should Washington, D.C. be Blocked From Controlling its Budget?

Argument in favor

This bill would void Washington D.C.’s illegal attempt to take control away from Congress. As the national capital, D.C. is not a normal city, but a federal district under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress.

operaman's Opinion
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05/25/2016
This is strictly up to Congress. Washington DC is not a state. Congress sets DC's parameters.
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05/29/2016
Change in D.C. will come lawfully after the Constitution is amended to allow Congress to relinquish forever their power over the District of Columbia. Amending the Constitution requires asking permission from the majority of the states. That's what the Founders wanted. Let's stick to the playbook.
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Monique's Opinion
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05/30/2016
DC should not have an unlimited revenue source funded by tax dollars
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Argument opposed

It is unfair for Washington D.C. residents to have their budget kept under federal control. This legislation is designed to protect an outdated policy that adds unnecessary costs and complications to the city.

Lesia's Opinion
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05/24/2016
Congress fails at running congress. They need to stay in their lane.
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William's Opinion
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05/24/2016
This is the job of the DC City government, not the federal government. It's the "federal" government for a reason--our national government is not supposed to have full control over states and municipalities.
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pgshpak's Opinion
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05/25/2016
DC denizens deserve the same recognition as occupants of other cities. Allowing DC to set their own budget is a step towards that.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed May 25th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 240 Yea / 179 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedMay 13th, 2016

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What is House Bill H.R. 5233?

This bill would repeal the Budget Autonomy Act, a local law passed by the District of Columbia's city council, signed by the D.C. mayor, and approved by its voters in 2012 and 2013.

In particular, the bill would clarify that all funds provided for D.C. must be appropriated by Congress.

The Budget Autonomy Act gives the city the authority to reduce the federal government's role in its budget process, by altering the federal District of Columbia Home Rule Act. The Home Rule Act was a 1973 compromise that granted limited self-government to Washington, D.C. — it allowed the city to elect a mayor and city council — but retained the authority of the U.S. Congress to review and approve the city’s laws and budget, and required the District to submit its budget to the President.

Rep. Mark Meadows’ (R-NC) bill, known as the Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for D.C. Home Rule Act, declares Washington, D.C.’s Budget Autonomy Act to have no legal effect, since it goes against the federal Home Rule Act. Meadows’ bill states that the Home Rule Act gives Congress constitutional power to pass legislation over the District, as well as “constitutional power of the purse.”

Meadows’ bill concludes that it would be illegal for Washington, D.C. employees to follow through with the Budget Autonomy Act and spend local tax dollars without Congressional approval, or create budgets without submitting them to the President.

His bill would repeal D.C.'s Budget Autonomy Act and amend the Home Rule Act to make the federal government’s role in Washington D.C.’s budget procedures more explicit.

Impact

Washington, D.C.'s city council; D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser; citizens of D.C.; Congress

Cost of House Bill H.R. 5233

$0.00
The CBO estimates that this bill would have no impact on the federal budget because any costs would be attributed to future appropriation acts.

More Information

In Depth: Rep. Mark Meadows said in a hearing that if Washington, D.C. officials go ahead with their plan to take control of their city budget, they may be federally prosecuted.

Proponents of his legislation believe Washington D.C.’s Budget Autonomy Act is legally unsound. At Rep. Meadows’ hearing, current and former congressional attorneys, a former attorney general for Washington D.C., and a lawyer for the Government Accountability Office all testified that the portions of the Budget Autonomy Act that authorize independent D.C. spending have no legal effect, since only Congress can change its own finances.

Meanwhile, opponents of Rep. Meadows’ bill, including D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, point out that D.C. has much stronger finances than it did when Congress passed the Home Rule Act in 1973. Mendelson argued that D.C. has balanced its budget for 20 years, has billions in reserves, and pays more in federal taxes than 22 states. 

Mendelson added that the otherwise financially sound District is hindered by having to wait for federal budget approval, which causes gaps in funding that cost the city millions.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington D.C.’s nonvoting representative in Congress said:

“Control over the dollars raised by local taxpayers is central to local control, one of the oldest principles of American government and a much cited principle of congressional Republicans.”


Of Note: Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser says her city’s attempt to take control over its budget is the first step in a campaign to make D.C. the 51st state, and has pledged to introduce statehood legislation in November 2016. 

Washington D.C. statehood has long been an issue of contention: Citizens pay federal taxes, but the city’s delegate in Congress cannot vote on final passage of legislation. Those opposed to D.C. statehood argue that it is crucial for the nation’s capital to be a federal district, independent of any state.


Media:

Summary by Katie Rose Quandt
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Daniel Lobo)

AKA

Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016

Official Title

To repeal the Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act of 2012, to amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to clarify the respective roles of the District government and Congress in the local budget process of the District government, and for other purposes.

    This is strictly up to Congress. Washington DC is not a state. Congress sets DC's parameters.
    Like (14)
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    Congress fails at running congress. They need to stay in their lane.
    Like (26)
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    This is the job of the DC City government, not the federal government. It's the "federal" government for a reason--our national government is not supposed to have full control over states and municipalities.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    DC denizens deserve the same recognition as occupants of other cities. Allowing DC to set their own budget is a step towards that.
    Like (10)
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    What? Congress should give up some power to the people? It is far past time to permit local autonomy in DC.
    Like (8)
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    Our current Congress is not capable of effectively or efficiently handling budget issues at the national level. Their understanding of basic governmental economics and what helps a country thrive is nonexistent. Washington D.C. is better off without their meddling.
    Like (8)
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    The citizens of DC have no representation in Congress to hold accountable. Rather than tyranny of the majority, it is tyranny by the government and antithetical to the intent of the constitution, regardless of DC's special status.
    Like (7)
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    The people of DC are US citizens. Their voice matters just as much as yours, and as such should count
    Like (6)
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    Let Washington D.C. control their own finances.
    Like (6)
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    Why let Congress' inefficiency and partisanship infiltrate a private city's business? The DC budget has been used as a political bargaining chip too many times already.
    Like (6)
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    Washington D.C. ought to be a state. Why does it take so long for democracy and self-determination to take course in America of all places?
    Like (5)
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    Change in D.C. will come lawfully after the Constitution is amended to allow Congress to relinquish forever their power over the District of Columbia. Amending the Constitution requires asking permission from the majority of the states. That's what the Founders wanted. Let's stick to the playbook.
    Like (5)
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    DC residents pay District income tax (equivalent to a state income tax) in addition to all Federal taxes; yet we still require Congressional approval to spend the self-generated tax revenue collected by the District. This is highly unfair and undemocratic. So not only do we lack meaningful congressional representation to justify our federal tax (IRS) contributions, we don't even have authority over the tax revenue we generate apart from the fed. Congress should either control AND fund DC's budget with federal money (abolish the 'state' income tax), or keep the tax and leave DC's revenue to the authority of the District government. Not both.
    Like (4)
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    DC residents pay taxes and should have the right to choose how that money is spent via their representatives
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    Dc should control their own budget!
    Like (3)
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    This is constitutional, amend or shut up
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    DC is not a State
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    No city should be blocked from controlling its own budget!
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    I would like representation in Congress equal to that my fellow citizens receive. Is that too much to ask? This isn't full representation rights--but a step in the right direction towards self-governance. I thought Republicans hated big government imposing its control over local government?
    Like (2)
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    DC has been a victim of Congressional tyranny for an inexcusable length of time. At the time of the Founding Fathers it made sense that DC would not have undue influence over Congress. Now, it makes no sense that Members of Congress who come from places that have nothing in common with district residents should have control over decisions that 2 or 3 miles away in MD & VA are decisions made by local governments. My impression has always been that conservative members don't trust local people to govern themselves--as is true with conservative views of the rest of the electorate--why else allow corporations & other special interests with lots of $$$ to take precedence over the will of voters everywhere? It is most glaring in the relationship of Congress to DC but it is ubiquitous in conservative government circles: voting & democracy are inherently dangerous and must be circumvented by any means possible. Whether legal or illegal--as is evidenced by all the Red State voter suppression laws. We can't have the riffraff voting & governing themselves, can we?
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