Groups Protest DC Riders In Budget Bill
||The Hill (DC)
||Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The leaders of several high-profile advocacy groups sent a letter to members of the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday opposing the inclusion of district riders in a fiscal 2012 budget bill.
Leaders from AIDS United, Human Rights Campaign, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and voting-rights group DC Vote banded together to oppose riders in the FY-12 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, scheduled for markup before the committee Thursday.
Unveiled last week, the bill stipulates that federal funds would not be allowed for abortion in the District, nor could they be used to fund needle exchange and medical marijuana programs. The city would receive $637 million under the bill, $62 million less than the previous year and $80 million less than that requested in the president’s budget.
“The FY-12 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill before you this week wrongly interferes in the District of Columbia’s own local affairs by imposing social-policy riders that usurp the prerogatives of Washington, D.C.’s mayor and city council and the citizens they represent,” wrote the advocacy group leaders in the letter.
Long at issue is the district’s lack of voting
representation in Congress. President Obama, once seen as the district’s best hope to gain representation, caused outrage among residents several months ago over a budget deal he reached with congressional Republicans ceding funding for abortions.
Many D.C. residents, council members and Mayor Vincent Gray later protested the use of the district as a bargaining chip in negotiations to pass a government funding measure.
The advocacy organizations “collectively [represent] millions of Americans, advocate on diverse issues but are united in our opposition to the inclusion of District of Columbia riders in the appropriations bill,” according to the letter. “These proposals are unfair and intolerable.”
“Should lawmakers continue to advance attacks on D.C.’s autonomy, we will make certain that our members — in every district — know how their representatives are spending their time here in Washington: meddling in the affairs of D.C. residents rather than focusing on the nation’s true, pressing business,” the letter added.
They concluded by requesting that House members of the committee oppose any effort to “force Congress’ views” on the district through the 2012 budget bill, or any other legislation.
The inclusion of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was a surprising addition to the letter. Though originally expected, the appropriations bill did not include any provisions targeting Washington’s policies on gun control.