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Posted at 03:44 PM ET, 07/13/2011

White House criticizes D.C. spending bill for abortion, needle-exchange provisions

The White House criticized the House spending bill for the District on Wednesday, ahead of floor consideration of the measure that could begin as early as this week.

The financial services and general government appropriations bill, which carries federal funding for the District, is tentatively scheduled to reach the House floor Friday, though it could slip to next week. The bill would cut funds for D.C. by 10 percent and — to the dismay of local leaders and activists — would ban the city from spending its own money to provide abortions to low-income women.

In a Statement of Administration Policy, the White House Office of Management and Budget criticized the abortion provision, saying it “undermines the principle of states’ rights and of D.C. home rule.”

The administration also complained about a provision preventing the use of federal (but not local) funds for the District’s needle-exchange programs. “This is contrary to current practice and the Administration’s policy to allow funds to be used in locations where local authorities deem needle exchange programs to be effective and appropriate,” the White House said.

Notably, the SAP did not say Obama might veto the bill over either of those items, though he did threaten a veto over separate provisions related to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, the health-care reform bill and Cuba policy.

District officials are pleased that the version of the spending bill set to hit the House floor did not include “riders” on other social policy issues such as gay marriage, medical marijuana and gun control. But some of those topics could still come up in amendments offered on the floor.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) went to the floor Wednesday to urge her colleagues not to add extraneous items to the District spending bill.

“Members of Congress, who are unaccountable to the electorate of the District of Columbia, have no right to use the budget process to direct local spending away from matters that may be controversial to you, but are not controversial to our local jurisdiction,” she said.

By  |  03:44 PM ET, 07/13/2011

 
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