The House Appropriations Committee unveiled the first draft of its 2012 spending bill for the District Wednesday morning, a measure that cuts federal payments to D.C. by close to 10 percent but mostly spares the city from restrictive “riders” on social policy.
The bill — which will be considered by an Appropriations subcommittee Thursday — does include a ban on the District using its own funds to pay for abortions for low-income women. That prohibition, which Republicans imposed during their last tenure in the House majority, was also included in the short-term spending deal agreed to in April by President Obama and the GOP. The agreement sparked anger and protests among local officials.
The new measure also includes a ban on the use of federal funding for the District’s needle-exchange and medical marijuana programs but, notably, does not prevent the city from using local money for those items. The bill is silent regarding the city’s same-sex marriage and gun-control laws.
Those omissions represent a victory for local activists, but only a temporary one. Language on those issues could still be added via amendment, either when the measure reaches the full Appropriations Committee or when it hits the House floor.
The spending bill includes a $637 million federal payment to D.C. for fiscal 2012, $62 million less than the city got for 2011. That includes an $18.5 million reduction for District courts, a $17.5 million cut for school improvements and a $5 million reduction for resident tuition support.
“Within these funds, the bill provides for important public safety and security programs, including increases to the D.C. Superior Court and the Offender Supervision Agency,” the Appropriations panel said in a press release.
Though the bill could be cleared by the full Appropriations Committee as early as next week, it’s unclear when the full measure will reach the House floor. It also carries funding for the Treasury Department, the White House and other federal agencies that are often the subject of controversy.