House Republicans introduced a new stopgap measure Monday night to keep the government running for another week that would cut $42 million from the District budget and bar the city from spending its own money to provide abortions to low-income women.
The bill is the latest gambit in the ongoing, high-stakes spending negotiations between House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House. The current funding bill expires Friday night, and both parties are angling to blame the other if they cannot cut a deal and the government shuts down.
The odds that the Senate and the White House would agree to the House’s one-week bill in its current form appear slim, and the White House has already told Republicans that the measure is unacceptable.
The new continuing resolution is the GOP’s latest salvo against the District, as the House majority has signaled for weeks its desire to impose funding cuts and policy restrictions on the city. In February, the House passed a bill to fund the government through September that would cut $80 million in payments to D.C. and included the abortion prohibition as well as a ban on the city using its own money to pay for needle-exchange programs.
“With this one-week CR, Republicans have demonstrated their contempt for the American citizens who reside in the District of Columbia,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said in a news release Tuesday. “The only other prohibition in the bill would prevent Guantanamo Bay detainees from being brought into the United States. District residents are not easy bargaining chips to be used like non-citizens at Guantanamo Bay. We are not surprised by this insult from House Republicans. We will be outraged if President Obama, Majority Leader Reid and the Senate Democratic majority throw the District of Columbia under the bus because of how the city chooses to spend its own local funds.”
The one-week CR Republicans offered Monday would reduce the D.C. Courts budget for capital improvements by $16.5 million, cut construction funding for the District’s forensics lab by $15 million, reduce money for housing the homeless by $7 million and terminate $4 million in funding for D.C. youth services after a one-time payment last year. All of the reductions were proposed by President Obama in his budget request for this year. Norton’s office said the only money specifically requested by D.C. that was being cut was the $7 million for the homeless.
On abortion, local leaders were already concerned that Democrats might agree to the ban on publicly-funded abortions as part of a deal to spare federal money for Planned Parenthood, which many Republicans want to defund.
Norton wrote a letter to Obama last week worrying “that perhaps some D.C. riders may have emerged as bargaining chips in the CR negotiations, with some mentioning a prohibition on the use of the city’s local funds for abortions for low-income women in particular. If any D.C. riders are included in the CR, that acquiescence by Democrats will make it nearly impossible to argue that they should be kept out of the fiscal year 2012 and fiscal year 2013 spending bills.”