WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 5, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has redoubled her efforts to ensure that the District of Columbia’s right to self-government is preserved as final negotiations begin on a fiscal year 2016 omnibus spending bill, with Republican House and Senate leaders insisting that controversial riders be included in the bill.
“Republicans’ control of Congress for the first time in eight years and the House’s far right power gains mean we will be more reliant than ever on the President and congressional Democrats, whose votes will be necessary to pass any bill, to defend D.C. home rule,” Norton said.
Norton was gratified that the Senate Appropriations Committee-passed fiscal year 2016 D.C. Appropriations bill does not include any D.C. riders. However, the House Appropriations Committee-passed D.C. Appropriations bill contains three—prohibiting D.C. from spending its local funds on abortions for low-income women, on legalizing marijuana sales, and on enforcing the Reproductive Heath Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA). RHNDA prohibits D.C. employers from discriminating against employees based on their reproductive health decisions.
Overturning RHNDA is a top priority for the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and outside conservative groups, which forced leadership to bring a disapproval resolution to the House floor to block RHNDA, the first one since 1991. While the disapproval resolution passed in the House, the Senate did not take it up and the president threatened to veto it.
In the fiscal year 2015 spending bill, Republicans blocked D.C. from legalizing marijuana sales. While they argued that the rider also blocked D.C.’s initiative legalizing marijuana possession, Norton found a loophole in the language and the initiative has since been implemented.
A spending bill must be passed by December 11 to avert a federal government shutdown. Even if the federal government shuts down, however, the D.C. government will remain open because of a provision Norton got enacted exempting D.C. from shutdowns in fiscal year 2016.