Mayor Marion Barry and D.C. City Council Chairman David A. Clarke went to Capitol Hill yesterday to ask for less federal control of District affairs and more federal money to finance them.
In testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District of Columbia, Barry outlined the city's "tight . . . excruciating" fiscal 1984 budget plan and asked the panel to approve a record-high federal payment to the District of $386 million, the figure requested by President Reagan.
Earlier in the day, the House District subcommittee on fiscal affairs had authorized the payment, which is $25 million more than the amount that Congress approved for fiscal 1983. The increase would be allocated to retirement costs, D.C. General Hospital and St. Elizabeths Hospital, Barry said.
Separately, the House District subcommittee on government operations approved legislation that would eliminate the 30-day congressional review period for District legislation. Currently, a bill approved by the city council and the mayor must be sent to Congress for a review period of 30 legislative days, which can take as long as six months. During that time, any congressman may seek to block the measure.
The District committee long has been sympathetic to the city's desires for more autonomy. But, although Congress has disapproved only two of the hundreds of bills that it has reviewed, neither house is ready to give up the option of doing so, congressional aides said.
Barry thanked the appropriations subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Julian C. Dixon (D-Calif.), for taking a "broad-brush" approach to the city's budget, rather than doing a line-by-line review.
But some of the members could not resist airing a few pet peeves about the city in which they spend so much of their time.
Rep. Lawrence Coughlin (R-Pa.), ranking minority member, complained that his wife no longer can use the hoses at self-service gasoline stations in the District because of the heavy nozzles the city has required that they have in order to comply with federal clean air regulations. Barry replied that he has had a number of complaints about this problem and is "looking at it."
A new member of the panel, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), told Barry that he hoped the mayor would do more to fix city streets, even after Barry had said that he now is repairing 40 miles of streets a year, compared with an average of six that were being repaired when he first came into office.
Barry had been prepared to answer Congress' customary questions about police protection in the city and had arrived armed not only with figures on force strength, but with the chief of police himself. This time, however, no one asked.