TIME AND AGAIN -- thanks to absurdly restrictive and complex congressional controls on the District of Columbia's local spending -- Capitol Hill finds ways to play political games at the city's expense. This year's grandstanding was by Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Calif). He led a mischievous move in the House this summer to prohibit the city from spending even its locally raised revenues for abortions. As a result, the city has been without an approved budget for the fiscal year that began 2 1/2 weeks ago. Fortunately, this time the chief congressional overseers of the District's purse strings didn't like Mr. Dornan's game -- and they made a few quick plays of their own to undo the damage.
In the House, it was the subcommittee staff of Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.) that orchestrated sudden floor action Tuesday to drop the Dornan restriction. With help from members of both parties as well as the speaker, compromise language (prohibiting the use of federal -- but not city -- money) was slipped through swiftly. It was then up to Mr. Wilson's Senate counterpart, Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), to push the District budget through that body. Mr. Leahy also vigorously opposed the ban, having noted pertinently that "there would be a revolution" in his home state were Congress ever to impose a restriction on local spending of local tax money there.
This also is precisely why certain members of Congress keep toying with the local affairs of the District. Its taxpayers make a fine target: they aren't represented by voting members of Congress. But now that this year's budget game is ending, sensitive members of the House and Senate should move to stop these shenanigans by according the District of Columbia the independent budget-making authority that state and local governments everywhere else take for granted.