Page 2 of 2   <      

D.C. Region Finds Much To Bemoan or Cheer in Plan

The budget would also strip at least $134 million from a national EPA program, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The fund helps reduce pollution of waterways by making loans to state governments to upgrade or build sewage treatment plants.

Davis said Bush's latest funding request for bay restoration, $29 million, was higher than the president's proposal for the current fiscal year. Congress added several million dollars to Bush's 2008 request, and local congressmen indicated that the amount would probably be increased again.

Hoyer said, "Fighting for these funds will be a top congressional priority for the Maryland delegation."

The administration also wants to eliminate money to build a total of about 100 acres of oyster habitat in three bay tributaries: the Choptank and Chester rivers in Maryland and the Lynnhaven River in Virginia. The program received $2 million in the current fiscal year.

Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) said he was concerned about a proposed $29 million cut to a trust fund that helps pay for cleanups of underground storage tanks. Wynn said that in once case, a "plume" of gasoline from a site in Maryland was found spreading under nearby neighborhoods in Northeast Washington.

The District would benefit in several ways under Bush's proposed budget. He would increase federal money for city schools by $32 million, including a one-time $20 million grant to help Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) restructure the education system.

In addition, Bush wants to increase funding for a college scholarship program open to city residents from $33.5 million to $35 million. And he asked for $14 million for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority to reduce sewer overflows into rivers and creeks, a $6 million increase.

But the administration also called for renewing restrictions on the D.C. government's ability to use its own funds for such purposes as a needle-exchange program for drug addicts. The city considers that program crucial to curbing the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Fenty expressed appreciation for the increase in school funding, but he opposed budget language "that takes self-determination powers away from local government."

Norton said she was pleased the president's budget request recognized one of her priorities: building Homeland Security's headquarters on the St. Elizabeths site. The administration called for $467 million for the project in 2009.

"This is central to what we're trying to do, to bring Ward 8 forward as an important location in our city," Norton said.

Congress eliminated hundreds of millions of dollars for the project from the 2008 budget, in a year-end showdown over spending. The project faces strong opposition from some historic preservationists and urban planners, who say it would overwhelm and close off the site, home to the nation's first federal psychiatric hospital.

Staff writer Lena H. Sun contributed to this report.

<       2

© 2008 The Washington Post Company