ANYONE WHO REMEMBERS when the Senate used to rescue the District of Columbia from budget horrors perpetrated by the House should be advised that today both congressional bodies are equally skilled at overturning important decisions made by the city's elected government. One need only check last week's handiwork by the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District, which is headed by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). Besides cutting funds requested by the city for a convention center, the subcommittee has assisted in an attempted fiscal strangulation of the city's Advisory Neighborhood Commission system and has refused to allow any spending of the city's money to improve ballot-counting.
At least in the case of the ANCs, the Senate subcommittee did approve half of the $1 million sought by the city to assist the unpaid elected neighborhood commissioners. The House Appropriations Committee refused to approve any funds at all. The original request constituted a modest and sound investment in hometown management. As Rep. Donald M. Fraser (D-Minn.), principal author of the ANC provision in the city charter, and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bill Bastuk note on this page, For the Record, the system already is producing varied and useful dividends throughout the community. We continue to hope that responsible members on both sides of Capitol Hill will press for the largest share possible of the original ANC request.
As for the cut in funds for the elections and ethics board, the Senate subcommittee is apparently arguing that the board has done such a good job of solving management problems so far that it doesn't need any money for voting machines or for the use of a shared computer-services system. That's a swell way to reward the fine achievements of this board, which requested the money to make the ballot-counting process work the way it should. Again, we urge an all-out effort in the Senate to recognize the importance of efficient voting in the nation's capital by approving the requested funds and arguing strongly for them in conference with the House.