It’s June in DC, which can mean only one thing: House Appropriators have launched the annual assault on DC Home Rule better known as the FY 2016 Appropriations Bill.

As it currently stands here are the anti-DC riders and what exactly they mean:

Sec. 809 (b) 

None of the funds contained in this Act may be used to enact any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or  otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession,  use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the  Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any  tetrahydrocannabinols derivative for recreational purposes.

This language was first introduced in the FY 2015 CRomnibus bill and was an attempt to block the District of Columbia from legalizing marijuana. While that attempt failed, this rider DOES keep the DC government from creating any sort of tax and regulate system to allow the legal sale of marijuana in the District. Because of Congress’ refusal to allow the District to govern itself we’re stuck in a wild west of sorts where it is legal to cultivate, possess and smoke marijuana, but illegal to purchase. 

SEC. 810. None of the funds appropriated under this Act shall be expended for any abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were  carried to term or where the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

This mainstay of the appropriations process – despite an uncharacteristic respect for DC Home Rule in 2010 – is so ingrained in DC's consciousness that  it registers as nothing more than an afterthought in the limited media coverage of Congress’ attacks on our democracy. The language is pretty straightforward, DC is FORBIDDEN to provide any local funding for abortion services, a decision Congress leaves to every other State’s legislature.

Both of these provisions are an unacceptable attack on democracy and on the very idea of local government.

It’s a depressing state of events when only two riders dictating how the District can spend its own locally raised tax dollars is cause for mild celebration, but judging by veiled threats made by certain members of Congress we can expect quite a few more riders to come when the full appropriations committee considers the bill and when the bill hits the House floor.

Budget Autonomy · Voting Rights

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