This post has been updated.
UPDATE: The bill to give budget autonomy to the District has been pulled from Wednesday’s schedule, after negotiations between Democrats and Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) office failed to produce any agreement on his proposed amendments.
ORIGINAL POST:Add Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) to the list of Republicans eager to change the District’s laws on guns, abortion and labor unions.
Ahead of a scheduled Wednesday morning markup of a bill to give D.C. budget autonomy, Paul has proposed a handful of amendments that could delay consideration of Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) measure, once again tying controversial add-ons to a key legislative priority for District leaders.
Lieberman’s bill, which has strong support from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and other local officials, would let the city spend its own money once the mayor and D.C. Council have agreed on a budget, without waiting for Congress to grant approval. The measure would also let the city decide when to begin its fiscal year, rather than conforming to the federal calendar. (Most states begin their fiscal year July 1, making it easier to plan school budgets, while D.C.’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1.)
But Paul’s proposed amendments could prompt supporters of District budget autonomy to ask Lieberman to pull his bill.
“The status right now is uncertain. There’s a lot of concern about amendments that have been filed,” Lieberman said Tuesday afternoon. He said he would decide “by the end of the day” whether his Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee would proceed with the bill, and that he had essentially left the decision up to District leaders.
In November, city officials asked Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to put off consideration of his D.C. measure because it included a ban on the city spending its own money to pay for abortions. And in 2010, Democrats shelved a bill that would have granted the District a voting member of Congress because gun-rights supporters threatened to attach language loosening the city’s firearms laws.
One Paul amendment would require the District to allow residents to obtain concealed weapon permits for handguns, and would require the city to honor permits issued to residents of other states. Another amendment would make the District “establish an office for the purpose of facilitating the purchase and registration of firearms by DC residents,” in response to reports that there is only one licensed gun dealer in the city.
Paul has also submitted an amendment to codify the city-funded abortion ban. The prohibition — a continuing source of frustration for local leaders that is strongly supported by anti-abortion groups — has been extended via appropriations bills every year that Republicans have controlled one or both chambers of Congress since the mid-1990s.
Paul proposed another amendment saying “membership in a labor organization may not be applied as a precondition for employment” in the District, and protecting employees “from discrimination on the basis of their membership status” in a union.
“I think it’s a good way to call attention to some issues that have national implications,” Paul said in an interview Tuesday. “We don’t have [control] over the states but we do for D.C.”
Asked his view on the District’s lack of voting representation in Congress, Paul said: “I don’t know what the answer to that is. It’s an anomaly, but it’s an anomaly that we’ve lived with for a long time and I don’t see it changing.”
The son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Rand Paul has become popular in his own right within the conservative movement and has been discussed as a possible presidential contender in 2016 and beyond.