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Posted at 06:33 PM ET, 12/15/2011

D.C. government dusts off shutdown plan


Gray blasted Congress for holding D.C. spending “hostage” in budget negotiations. (Bill O'Leary - THE WASHINGTON POST)
The District government is again dusting off shutdown plans as Congress makes only halting progress on a federal spending deal as a Friday midnight deadline approaches.

Because all District spending must be appropriated by Congress, including funds raised from local taxes and fees, a federal shutdown would also mean a city shutdown.

The dimensions of the D.C. shutdown plan circulated in a Thursday evening news release closely match the plan refined during the April showdown.

The departments of Motor Vehicles, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and Public Works and Transportation and the D.C. Public Library would close, in addition to several other agencies.

Schools would remain open, however, and police, fire and emergency medical personnel would remain on duty. Some health and social-service functions — including food stamps, Medicaid and child welfare — would remain in operation.

“I urge Congress to do its job and allow the District government to stay open and expend local revenues paid by D.C. residents to serve the needs of our people,” Gray said in a statement, echoing his calls in recent months for city budget autonomy.

Gray added that it was “unconscionable” that the District, “which has a structurally balanced budget and a growing reserve fund, is held hostage by a Congress that has the federal government neck-deep in red ink.”

The spending bill set to be voted on by the House includes a controversial restriction prohibiting any city spending on abortion. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) pledged to work to remove the rider, even though Hill Democrats and President Obama agreed to include it in a previous spending deal.

“We will never let the refusal to observe the principles of democracy here pass without a fight,” she said in a statement.

A group of city activists will rally outside the Longworth House Office Building at 11:30 a.m. to protest the abortion rider’s inclusion.

By  |  06:33 PM ET, 12/15/2011

 
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