Here we go again.
With Republicans and Democrats in Congress engaged in another fight over a short-term funding bill, the prospect of a shutdown of the federal government — and, thus, parts of the D.C. government — looms once more on Sept. 30.
As District residents were reminded during the standoff earlier this year, the city would be unable to spend even its own taxpayer funds on most services in the event of a federal government shutdown, forcing many D.C. agencies to close.
On Wednesday, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced the District of Columbia Fiscal Year 2012 Local Funds Continuation Act, which would allow the city government to stay open and spend its own money regardless of what the federal government does.
The current fight on Capitol Hill is over disaster funding and whether money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency needs to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Norton said, it “would be an incredible folly of Republicans to court another shutdown out of a stingy, stubborn refusal to assist thousands of Americans caught in the multiple disasters that hurled across our country in 2011.
“But after the hairbreadth by which the District missed a shutdown in April, we cannot afford to put the city through the expense and effort of preparing for a possible shutdown again. We have no choice but to prepare.”
Republicans, for their part, have vowed there won’t be a government shutdown and have accused Democrats of playing politics with the disaster funding issue.
Regardless of who is to blame for the standoff, Norton may have trouble advancing her latest bill in the House. She attempted several times to move similar legislation earlier this year and was continually rebuffed by the Republican leadership, which did not want to pass any bill that acknowledged the possibility that there might indeed be a shutdown.
The House will vote later Wednesday on a continuing resolution that would keep the government open beyond Sept. 30. The White House asked Republicans to include language permitting D.C. to spend its own money for the remainder of 2012 in the CR, but they did not do so.