The city, not House lawmakers, should decide how local tax dollars are spent.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

HOUSE LAWMAKERS are scheduled today to take up a bill that would set federal funding levels for the District for the next fiscal year. Yet some are expected to use the opportunity to introduce provisions that limit how the District may use locally derived funds. These efforts are wrong, infringe on the District's right to self-rule and should be voted down.

For years, the District has labored under a provision that prevents it from using local tax dollars to fund or subsidize abortion services. The Hyde Amendment already forbids state and local jurisdictions from using federal money for abortion services, but it does not restrict these entities from using local tax dollars.

Late last month, a House subcommittee approved $768 million in federal funds for the District. In the process, Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), chairman of the subcommittee, stripped the abortion provision from the appropriations bill. This version is now before the full House Appropriations Committee. Some abortion foes in the House plan to reintroduce the abortion-funding restriction.

Federal lawmakers have the right to seek limits on how federal money is used, but not to impose those same limits on states. The District should be treated with the same respect afforded every other sovereign jurisdiction in the country.

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