Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Media Source:
Rachel Kurzius

When Congress unveiled the $1.1 trillion government spending bill this morning, its contents proved to be a mixed bag for the District.

As reported by WAMU, the legislation includes a provision that continues to make it illegal for D.C.'s government to spend any money to implement Initiative 71, which legalized marijuana in the District. D.C. residents approved of the measure at the ballot box by a two-to-one margin.

That means we will continue to exist in the bizarre limbo of legality when it comes to toking up, as we have since citywide villain Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland first included the measure in last year's must-pass spending bill.

And, as it has since 1976, Congress continues to prevent the use of federal dollars to fund abortions with its inclusion of the Hyde Amendment in the bill.

Despite these issues, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton called the spending bill "a major victory for the District of Columbia." In a statement she writes that it contains

a record $40 million for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG), which is an increase of $10 million from last year’s level, has no new anti-home-rule riders, exempts D.C. from a shutdown in fiscal year 2017, provides the full $150 million for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) capital improvements, gives full funding to the Congresswoman’s major economic development project: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) complex at St. Elizabeths in Ward 8, addresses airplane noise, contains her amendment to combat racial profiling, permits sledding on Capitol Hill, and provides other critical funding for the District that she requested.

Yep, you read that right. D.C. residents now have the ability to sled on Capitol Hill, according toRoll Call. This extension of a House measure from last spring comes after brave civil disobediencefrom children last winter.

And, according to the Washington Post, the deal also has some good news for the delayed Department of Homeland Security campus construction project in Southeast. Congressional leaders included all $556.7 million requested by President Obama, meaning that the schedule to complete the building by 2021 won't be further derailed.

The bill's existence at all means D.C. will likely be spared the extraordinary inconvenience of a government shutdown. It's expected to pass in the House and Senate by the end of the week.