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INTRODUCTION

Many of DC's governmental and financial functions are watched over by agencies of the US Government on both the Executive side (The White House and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and on the Legislative side (The House and the Senate). Four subcommittees of the Congress carry most of the broad oversight responsibility:

  • The DC Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee;
  • The DC Oversight Subcommittee of the Senate Governmental Oversight Committee;
  • The DC Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee;
  • The DC Subcommittee of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee;
  • If DC's major problems were treated like those of other American cities, then they would be addressed by the HUD Subcommittees;
  • Instead, with extensive Congressional involvement, plus the Control Board, DC has been run by the equivalent of Seven Mayors, although there is now some indiciation that the 107th Congress will be somewhat better in avoiding "micromanaging" DC's affairs than previously;
  • A detailed chronology (taken from NARPAC's daily headline files) demonstrates the extent of Congressional meddling during 1999 -- and a similar pattern in 2000. Changes in Congressional oversight are sorely needed if the District is ever to develop in its own right;
  • Because of the District's extreme difficulties, two major control boards were also established by the federal government: one to oversee DC's Finances, and the other to oversee theDC School System. These are discussed Current Major Issues, but the Emergency School Board phased out in 2000, and the Control Board is now due to phase out in 2001.
  • Finally, and over the long run perhaps the most useful, President Clinton also established an OMB Interagency DC Task Force of the Federal Government

    to help solve some of DC's problems through "offline" assistance from other federal agencies.


return to the top of the page OMB'S FEDERAL INTERAGENCY DC TASK FORCE

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prepares the President's budget requests and other legislation concerning the DC. For instance, it was the Director of OMB who presented the President's new plan for restructuring several DC governmental functions at A White House press conference in 1997.

Recognizing that "DC has no state", President Clinton had earlier directed then director of OMB Alice Rivlin to "convene a group of officials in Executive Branch agencies to work among themselves, and with their DC counterparts, to help the District cope with its financial problems" according to their latest report: "Promoting Stability, Growth, and Opportunity in Our Nation's Capital." Specific programs of assistance were established by the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Justice, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Transportation, amounting to many millions of federal dollars. Equally important, it has brought the attention of federal experts to DC's manifold problems, and its need for "systemic" changes.

Verbatim extracts from the first annual report (for 1996) of the Federal DC Task Force are included under each of NARPAC, Inc.'s major issue areas. A later report updating Federal assistance to the District became available in May, 1998, and is summarized in the DC Task Force section of City Management, and detailed under each major issue heading.

Interagency Task Force Codified By Executive Order

Along with many dubious pardons, and other seemingly frantic last-minute actions, President Clinton issued an executive order creating the Federal Interagency Task Force on the District of Columbia. It is not clear as of April, 2001 that President Bush will support it. Nevertheless, it describes how the task force has worked in recent years--and how it felt it should continue:

January 15, 2001

EXECUTIVE ORDER

FEDERAL INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to further the revitalization of, and to improve prospects for the success of "home rule" in the District of Columbia, the Nation's Capital, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Background and Policy.

DC is the Nation's Capital, and the Federal Government is the largest employer, landholder, and purchaser in the region. The Executive Office of the President has established and maintained an interest in fostering the Federal relationship with DC since 1963. This Administration has long sought to strengthen the relationship between the Federal Government and DC by initiating a historic restructuring of this relationship. At the request of the President, in 1995, the Federal D.C. Interagency Task Force, chaired by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and directed by the Special Advisor to the President and Executive Director of the Federal DC Interagency Task Force, was created to revitalize DC and improve prospects for "home rule" to succeed in the Nation's Capital.

The Federal D.C. Interagency Task Force Office has worked with Federal agencies, the Congress, and local officials to promote long-term financial stability, economic growth, and opportunity for self-government for DC. In 1997, the President signed into law the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997, under which the Federal Government undertook certain responsibilities and governmental functions befitting a State or county government. Also in 1997, the President signed into law tax incentives designed to spur economic growth in DC. It is the policy of this Administration, therefore, to build on the momentum of the accomplishments over the last 5 years by formally establishing the Federal D.C. Interagency Task Force to further assist DC in achieving financial stability, economic growth, and improvement in management and service delivery.

Section 2. Establishment of the Federal Interagency Task Force on the District of Columbia.

(a) There is established the "Federal Interagency Task Force on the District of Columbia" (Task Force).

(b) The Task Force shall be composed of the following members:

(1) The Attorney General;
(2) The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development;
(3) The Secretary of Health and Human Services; (4) The Secretary of Labor;
(5) The Secretary of Transportation;
(6) The Secretary of the Treasury;
(7) The Administrator of General Services;
(8) The Secretary of Education;
(9) The Secretary of the Interior;
(10) The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;
(11) The Secretary of Commerce;
(12) The Secretary of Agriculture;
(13) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget;
(14) The Administrator of the Small Business Administration;
(15) The Commissioner of the Social Security;
(16) The Secretary of Energy;
(17) The Director of the Office of Personnel Management; and
(18) Such other members as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget may provide (including the Director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, which office is located in the Department of Justice.

(c) The Task Force shall be chaired by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director). The Director may appoint an Assistant Director or other senior official to assist in the management of the Task Force.

(d) The Office of Management and Budget shall provide administrative support for the Task Force. To the extent permitted by law (as permitted), other executive departments and agencies may provide such staff, resources, and information as may be required in carrying out the provisions of this order.

(e) The Director shall develop, review, modify, and, as appropriate, implement program recommendations, in cooperation with the appropriate elected Federal and local officials and agencies, to promote long-term financial stability, economic growth, and opportunity for self-government for DC.

(f) As permitted, the Task Force staff shall communicate with Federal and local elected officials as early in program planning cycles as reasonably feasible, to develop and explain specific Federal and local plans and program actions.

Section 3. Purpose.

The purpose of the Interagency Task Force will be to coordinate and better leverage Administration efforts and initiatives for DC in concert with local and regional initiatives to improve the long-term financial stability of the Nation's Capital and to improve self-governance. The Director's designee shall serve as liaison between the executive branch and the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government of DC, as well as the private sector.

Section 4. Responsibilities. As permitted, the Interagency Task Force shall:

(a) formulate and recommend interagency compacts and cooperative agreements between Federal agencies and DC;

(b) develop, on a continuing basis, a comprehensive and coordinated plan to establish priorities to promote long-term financial stability, economic growth, and opportunity for self-government for DC;

(c) provide for an understanding by the public of the needs and assets of DC;

(d) support District efforts to encourage economic growth in DC;

(e) serve as the focal point and coordinating unit for Federal programs, technical assistance, and other support for DC; and

(f) provide a forum for consideration of problems within DC and propose and effectuate solutions.

Section 5. Assistance to Economically Distressed Areas.

Members of the Task Force, as permitted and within existing budgetary resources, shall provide targeted assistance to economically distressed areas within DC and to projects that require economic development assistance. To the extent permitted by law, members of the Task Force shall also participate in comprehensive neighborhood revitalization initiatives requiring Federal assistance, including programs organized by the government of DC, and ollaborative efforts organized by private organizations, such as the Anacostia Best Practices initiative.

Section 6. Local Accommodation. As permitted, the Federal Interagency Task Force shall make efforts toaccommodate the concerns of local elected officials in proposing Federal technical or other assistance.

Section 7. Judicial Review. This order does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law against the United States, its officers, its employees, or any other person.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON

THE WHITE HOUSE, January 15, 2001.

FOUR CONGRESSIONAL DC OVERSIGHT SUBCOMMITTEES

Legislative implementation of federally-imposed decisions frequently accompany the passage of Congress's annual appropriations. Because DC remains a "ward of the Congress" (even though it no longer receives its $660 million "annual federal payback" for city services provided to the federal government), and because DC is obliged to have its entire budget reviewed by the Congress, both DC appropriations subcommittees are very influential bodies.

The original Presidential initiatives would have eliminated some of this perceived "micromanagement" and "interference" in home rule, but the final enacted "DC Rescue Plan" retained the separate and often conflicting roles of all four sub/committees, as well as the often mercurial interventions of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, now long since departed. It is evident from the daily press reports that Congress feels that managing the nation's capital city is a "game in which any number can play". Adding four separate centers of authority on the Hill to the elected mayor, the Chairman of the City Council, and the still-active Control Board (now under Chairman Rivlin), it is easy to count seven mayors for DC without including an independent Chief Financial Officer and two separate School Boards (elected and appointed).

For the 107th Congress (2001-2), membership on the four subcommittees will be as follows:

return to the top of the pageDC Subcommittee,
SENATE Appropriations Committee


Republicans: Chr: Mike DeWine (R-OH)**;Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Democrats: RnkMbr: Mary Landrieu (D-LA)*;Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)*
** = second-term member; * = first term member of Senate

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pageDC Oversight Subcommittee,
SENATE Government Affairs Committee

Republicans: Chr: George Voinovich, (R-KS); Ted Stevens, (-AK); Susan Collins (R-ME); Pete Domenici (R-NM); Thad Cochran (R-MS);
Democrats: RnkMbr: Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)*; Daniel Akaka (D-HI); Robert Torricelli (D-NJ)*; Tom Carper (D-DE)*; Jean Carnahan (D-MO)*;
* = first term member of Senate

return to the top of the pageDC Oversight Subcommittee,
HOUSE Appropriations Committee

Republicans: Chr: Joe Knollenberg (R-11th MI); Enert Istook, Jr. (D-5th OK); Randy Cunningham (R-51st CA);John Doolittle (R-4th CA);John Sweeney (R-22nd NY)*; Dave Vitter (R-1st LA)*;
Democrats:: RnkMbr: Chaka Fattah (D-2nd PA); Alan B. Mollohan (D-1st WV); John Oliver (D-1st MA);
* 3rd term in House or less

return to the top of the pageDC Subcommittee,
HOUSE Gov't Reform and Oversight Committee

For years, this has been the most active subcommittee of the Congress concerning DC matters, because it has assigned to it the overall oversight functions. Its past chairman, Thomas Davis (R-VA), has finally stepped down: he was a tough but knowledgeable tskmaster for the District, and benefitted from recent local governmental experience in Fairfax,VA, within the DC metropolitan area. He has been rplaced by another longtime House member, this time from Montomery County, MD, also within the DC metro area:

Republicans: Chr: Constance A Morella (R-8thMD); Thomas M. Davis III (R-11th VA); Joe Scarborough (D-1st FL);
Democrats: RnkMbr: Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC); Vacancy; Vacancy;
* 3rd term in House or less

return to the top of the pageOVERSIGHT FOR HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Were the District of Columbia treated by the federal government like other American urban areas, then some if its most serious problems, common to most inner cities, would be under the general oversight of the housing and urban affairs subcommittees of the Congress:

VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Subcommittee,
SENATE Appropriations Committee:

Republicans: Bond, Chair; Burns; Shelby; Craig; Domenici, DeWine
Democrats: Mikulski, Rnk. Mbr; Leahy; Harkin; Bryd; Kohl; Johnson

Housing and Transportation Subcommittee,
SENATE Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee:

Republicans: Allard, Chair; Santorum; Ensign; Shelby; Enzi; Hagel;
Democrats: Reed, Rnk. Mbr; Carper; Stabenow; Corzine; Dodd; Schumer;

VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Subcommittee,
HOUSE Appropriations Committee:

Republicans: Walsh, Chair; DeLay; Hobson; Knollenberg; Frelinghuysen; Northrup; Sununu; Aderholt
Democrats: Mollohan, Rnk. Mbr; Kaptur; Meek; Price; Cramer; Fattah;
Independent: Goode;

Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee,
HOUSE Financial Services Committee:

Republicans: Roukema, Chair; Green; Bereuter; Bachus; King; Ney; Barr; Kelly; Riley; Miller; Cantor; Grucci; Rogers; Tiberi;
Democrats: Frank, Rnk. Mbr; Velazquez; Carson; Lee; Schakowsy; Tubbs Jones; Capuano; Waters; Watt; Clay; Israel;
Independent: Sanders;

It is in these subcommittees that some of the nation's most serious long range socioeconomic problems will have to be addressed within the next few years if American metro areas are to achieve reasonably level playing fields for their diverse residents.

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page THE SEVEN MAYORS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Managing and administering the affairs of urban areas is a difficult task at best, and is exacerbated when the elected officials prove incompetent to exercise good government. But, it becomes almost impossible when multiple authorities with different agendas attempt to correct the same problems from different vantage points. This year's FY98 budget approval process for DC has exemplified this tragicomic situation summarized in this NARPAC, Inc. running commentary:

In January, 1997 the President outlines a "DC Rescue Plan" which calls on the federal government to take back some of DC's onerous and ill- managed "state functions", starting a debate between DC officials and Congressional lawmakers. It also calls for elimination of the four Congressional oversight committees--a provision that Congress rejects.

In February and March the elected Mayor Barry tries unsuccessfully three times to prepare an FY98 budget proposal satisfactory to the appointed Control Board "Mayor" Brimmer.

In April, the DC Council finally approves a DC budget for submission to the Congress, and votes first to reject the President's rescue plan, and then reverses itself three days later. Meanwhile, "Mayor" Davis of the House Oversight Committee has begun to shepherd the President's plan through the Congress as a separate bill.

Meanwhile, "Mayor" Taylor of House Appropriations weighs in to suggest shifting the power to run DC from both Mayor Barry and "Mayor" Brimmer to DC's new Finance Chief, a move unwisely endorsed by the Finance Chief himself. This proposal is attached to a small DC FY97 supplemental appropriation wending its way through Congress, and the needed funding bill is killed as a result. Taylor then throws the troubled DC Law School into further turmoil by stating he will not approve funding for it in FY98--a threat not carried out in the final bill.

In June, the House Ways & Means Committee agrees to support the DC rescue package, now called the "Davis Plan" which will, among other things, provide a $325M windfall for DC in FY98, and require DC to resubmit their budget proposal--a process which again results in foolish grandstanding by Barry, and exasperation from Brimmer. A sensible compromise is reached in September which would apply much of the windfall to a) the remaining $500M DC deficit, and b) some of the most pressing of the Control Board near-term initiatives for fixing the city.

In July, 1997, the simmering issue of shifting from a City Administrator to a City Manager (to take the elected mayor out of the direct management loop) is raised in Congress, and DC activists fly into action claiming that such a change should be based on local "democratic" action, not arbitrary action by the city's "receivers". "Mayor" Faircloth of the Senate Oversight Committee supports the city manager approach, and is greeted with demonstrators bused to his home in North Carolina. Such luminaries as Louis Farrakhan and Jesse Jackson pick up the mayor's theme, weighing in against the "rape of democracy" in the District. Delegate Norton applies her considerable--and vociferous--influence to kill the plan.

As a result the Congress shifts to a compromise which strips Mayor Barry of most of his remaining authority, turning the nine major functional agencies over to "Mayor" Brimmer, to be run by a series of consulting firms (!). Brimmer subsequently announces that he will hire a manager to oversee the consultants-- since quite obviously the inexperienced five-person Control Board cannot manage the major day-to-day operations of the city.

To further complicate matters, "Mayor" Brownback of Senate DC Appropriations subcommittee insists that the DC bill include funding for the controversial school voucher program being pushed nationally. This subsequently becomes a major issue, further delaying passage of the DC bill--and is ultimately removed to a separate bill to avoid Presidential veto.

Early in August, the rescue management plan is approved by the Congress, passed in an omnibus federal budget bill, and Brimmer appoints a talent search firm to look for a manager. Norton first supports the plan and five days later reverses her position in the face of a minor activist's demonstration.

In September, the focus in Congress shifts back to passing DC's (revised) FY98 municipal budget as a separate appropriation. In October, "Mayor" Taylor attaches a dozen or more specialized riders clearly intended to micromanage DC affairs. These include limits on personnel assigned to the mayor's office and his security detail; a ban on businesses offering helicopter tours of the city; reopening Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House; leasing street sweepers; requiring all city vehicles to get 22 miles to the gallon; and so forth. They also mandate Congressional approval of all Control Board spending, a hot line for reporting fraud, and a limit on welfare payments--not to exceed those of Maryland and Virginia. These riders are attached to the House bill, which passes by one vote, while the Senate bill crafted by "Mayor" Faircloth is passed virtually accepting the revised DC bill as submitted.

In October, Brimmer catches Taylor trying to "steer" consultant's contracts to be included in the bill. Taylor retaliates by trying to block salary raises for DC officials which would make them competitive with surrounding jurisdictions-- and hopefully make it possible to develop a more competent DC executive force.

To ease the absurd process expected in reconciling the Taylor and Faircloth bills, "Mayor" Gingrich, with his own agenda for the "shining city on a hill" (including school vouchers), weighs in with the almost unprecedented step of removing Taylor from the reconciliation process and replacing him with Davis. Haggling over the bill continues into November, well past the beginning of the fiscal year, and raising DC costs to borrow money in the meantime. Finally, a bill is passed in mid-November, while elected Mayor Barry is back in Africa for the second meeting this year, where he is advising other black mayors worldwide how to improve the image of their cities.

In tribute to Congressional chicanery, "Mayors" Davis and Faircloth, and the ranking Democrat on "Mayor" Taylor's committee had included a rider to the appropriation bill that would transfer at no cost the valuable property ordered vacated by the DC-operated prison at Lorton, to the state of Virginia for its own uses. "Mayor" Taylor steps forward to quash this blatantly opportunistic move whereby the suburbs would benefit from DC's problem relief.

Any rational long-range solution to the multiple problems of managing the municipal government of our nation's capitol must include a major reduction in the capricious interventions of the Congress in local affairs. In their place, however, there remains the need for some form of professional executive oversight (by exception)--as is provided to all other American municipalities by their state governments and boards.

In the view of NARPAC, Inc. the most statesmanlike solution to this problem would be for the Congress to dissolve the two authorizations subcommittees and two appropriations subcommittees of the Congress (House and Senate), and replace them with a single Joint Committee of the Congress for DC. Four other such joint committees already exist for: Economics, Taxation, Government Printing Office, and Library of Congress. For further explanation, see Unfinished Business, NARPAC, Inc.'s editorial for August,1998.

Congressional Tinkering Stalls FY99 DC Appropriation Bill

Again during 1998, the Congress found plenty of time to add special conditions to the DC FY99 "appropriations bill" (though no appropriations were sought by DC this year). Among the gratuitous amendments are: 1) prohibiting kids under 18 from having tobacco products; prohibiting unmarried couples from adopting children; forbidding DC employees (except police) from driving city cars home; banning the use of DC's own funds for needle exchange programs; limiting lawyers pressing special education programs for individual kids from charging more than $50 per hour; repealing a (probably foolish) DC residency requirement for DC employees; banning any city official from spending public money to gain voting rights for city residents; and eliminating all money ($573K) to operate the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions' work--essentially a death-knoll for the city's not- always effective grass-roots political efforts.

The Congress also added some federal funds for unspecified 'management reforms'; to expand a downtown Metro station, and add to funding for DC charter schools. It has also removed a controversial school voucher funding proposal that the President threatened to veto. Nevertheless, the bill was not passed by the beginning of the new fiscal year, and DC was obliged to operate under a 'continuing resolution' which limits the spending of DC's own revenues until the bill was signed. In fact, many of the most objectionable provisions were deleted from the final omnibus bill (for $520 billion) that the President signed on October 21st, but the political energies required to remove the frivolous tinkering could have been better spent elsewhere.

Washington Post Supports Eliminating Congress's DC Subcommittees

In a recent (December, 1998) unintentional on-camera gaffe, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott admitted that service on the DC subcommittees was 'the dregs'. NARPAC responded immediately by suggesting Congress disband the four subcommittees (see Correspondence), and a few days later (Dec 9, 1998), a Post editorial included the following:

"Senators have good reasons to recoil from serving as a D.C. surrogate mayor on Capitol Hill. Chairing a subcommittee that signs off on the ways District citizens manage and spend their own tax dollars pales next to overseeing appropriations subpanels of national security, agriculture and major domestic programs. The oversight performed by D.C. appropriations subcommittees only undercuts the ability of an elected mayor and council to enact local laws, tax their citizens and run the city. The Senate and House D.C. appropriations subcommittees, as with the two D.C. authorizing subcommittees, only perpetuate the role of Congress as the local legislature. They are inefficient uses of a senator's and representative's time.

Abolishing the subcommittees would not prevent Congress from exercising its constitutional responsibility for the nation's capital. [But} abolishing the D.C. spending and authorizing committees.... would relieve Congress of an unnecessary and pesky legislative burden about which the Republican majority leader rightly complains. The D.C. panels are "dregs." They should be eliminated."

At about the same time, one of the first acts of the Speaker-elect of the House, Bob Livingston, was to deny Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's request to again become a full voting member of the Congress--in part at least because the Republican margin on the House is already so slim. He subsequently withdrew his nomination for unrelated reasons, but it is not clear that his successor, Dennis Hastert, will overturn his decision.

Congress's 'Virtual Mayor' Tom Davis Weighs in for Mayor Williams

In a January,1999, editorial in the Washington Post, Tom Davis, Chairman of the House DC Subcommittee (and representative from a neighboring Virginia DC metro area suburb), gave his views of "What a difference four years have made for the nation's capital". Excerpts follow:

Just four years ago, when I took my seat in Congress as a new member and was named chairman of the D.C. subcommittee, Washington was in the middle of its worst crisis in history...... The District had not gotten into its financial crisis overnight, and it could not recover overnight. The subcommittee concluded that poor management and a shocking failure to make hard choices were the principal causes of the disaster that faced the region. I say the region, because we need a healthy city to have a vibrant metropolitan area. (emphasis added by NARPAC.);

Congress cannot avoid its responsibility for the nation's capital under the Constitution. Neither can the executive branch. So in early 1995, we acted. The bill I authored created the Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, better known as the control board.... Working in a bipartisan way with local and national leaders, we created an atmosphere of economic stability that proved reassuring to investors.....Perhaps our most significant reform was the creation of the position of chief financial officer for the District. Anthony Williams, now the District's new mayor, was appointed to fill the post. We knew at the time that the position was crucial to the District's revitalization, and the chief financial officer was given most of the mayor's financial duties.

Our end product encompassed a fundamental restructuring of the relationship between the federal government and the District. It was the most far-reaching realignment of functions in years. Key elements included federal assumption of certain functions normally performed by state governments and incentives for economic development and private-sector jobs....We also helped to revamp the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Board of Education.

A new day is dawning. The District has a new mayor. The control board has a new head, Alice Rivlin, who was among the first to report the dangerous trends that the federal government began to correct in 1995.

The recent decisions to shift certain functions from the control board to the new mayor and other city entities is timely. My subcommittee will continue to review and work with local officials to get the job done....We can be optimistic for the future of the District because of the effective hard work that has brought us this far.

What Davis does not say here is that he remains adamantly opposed to any leveling of the fiscal playing field within the region--based on his own clear (and acknowledged) conflict of interest. He is apparently confident that DC can become the first core city in the US to heal itself without the help of the revenue base of its burgeoning suburbs. NARPAC, Inc. disagrees. In fact, the "poor management and shocking failure to make the hard choices" certainly extends to the Congress in its failure to accept "its responsibilities for the nation's capital under the Constitution."

return to the top of the pageCONGRESSIONAL MEDDLING IN DC BUDGET CONTINUES IN 1999

Congressional meddling in the details of DC's 2000 budget continued apace, with several members of the DC oversight subcommittees (as well as unrelated members from the floor) offering amendments stipulating how DC should spend--or not spend--its own locally- generated revenues. In fact, the interference was so bad that the President vetoed the proposed "appropriations" legislation three times. It seems unnecessary to repeat the litany of "micromanagement" items here. Instead, NARPAC provides a summary of the major Washington Post headlines and editorials concerning DC's 2000 budget review process in the Congress from July through November of 1999. It is a classic case of the political abuse of their oversight responsibilities, the subject of a recent NARPAC Editorial, which applies as well to inappropriate DC Council oversight.

DC 2000 BUDGET APPROVAL TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS
July, 1999
703EditorSenatorial Courtesy for DC--budget sails thru w/ help from Hutchison, White House, Democrats, Council/wcs65
715LiptonHouse Appn Subcom Adds $95M to DC Budget--severance pay, o/s tuitions. foster care, Anacostia River
720EditorRidding DC's Budget of Riders--House Appns Comm should remove riders added by DC Subcommittee
720StaffRep Istook Seeks Curbs on Office Rentals by DC--in view of recent exposure of empty rented bldgs
721LiptonDC Home Rule Wins as House Appns Comm drops 2 riders re needle exchange, referendum counting
728staffHouse OKs Debate on DC Riders: needles; medical marijuana; unmarrieds adoptions; fines for cigarettes
729EditorRiding DC's Budget--House decision to debate riders isn't fair, isn't right--riders are anethma to DC
730LiptonHouse OKs $4.7B DC budget-- rejects medical marijuana, needles, abortions, but stops other riders
731EditorBody Blows to Home Rule--Conferees should work to remove intrusive riders, unwarranted restrictions
August, 1999
801LiptonDC Warms to House Chairman--Istook steers DC budget less to the right than some leaders feared
805LiptonDC Loses Ground on Riders--House-Senate Panel backs no needle exchange, no med marijuana
805LiptonAll--Too-Familiar Debate--All-Too-Familiar Conclusion--riders creep back in--despite Davis, Obey, et. al.
807EditorDC Budget About Face--basic budget unchanged, some funds added--but at expense of unwanted riders
807StaffFinal Vote on $4.7B DC Budget put off (at Norton urging) til after Congress's recess--many riders back in
818Norton,EHTying Up Our City by the Purse Strings--details 'lose-lose' situation of Congressional riders--gotta resist
September, 1999
910FehrHouse Puts Strings on DC Budget--riders include no marijuana, needles, abortions, benefits for unmarried, etc.
910Fehr(Cont)House Action pits Chrmn Istook v. Moran who says same riders would not be pressed on own districts
911EditorAn Overburdened DC Budget--presidential veto warranted if Senate also passes conference rpt
917FehrSenate OKs DC Budget 52/39, Hutchison claims 'right to set standards', OMB to urge veto re home rule
918EditorThe DC Budget High-Wire Act--national leaders should give DC bill its wants, then leave city alone
929FehrPresident Vetoes DC Budget Bill--accuses Republicans of violating home rule to pursue social agenda
929EditorA Veto to Defend Home Rule--Congress should cut out the riders--not cut funding out of vindictiveness
930FehrDC Budget Caught in Hill Standoff re drug riders: Istook says let Pres and Dems 'sit in mess they created'
October, 1999
1009FehrGOP Offers Changes in DC Budget--keeping restrictions on needles, marijuana--Norton says premature
1016EditorGet Serious re DC Budget--3rd House version still unacceptable, Senate a bit better--time to get serious
1016FehrRaise Lowered for DC Council--Senate reduces raise to 5% ($84K); keeps cell phone towers in DC bill
1026EilperinDC Funding Bill May Include Superfund Fight--Lott wants special non-DC gimick in, Hastert wants it out
1028StaffNeedle Exchange Compromise Reached--House/Senate OK private distributor (but no med marijuana)
1029FehrVeto Looms for House-Passed DC Budget--House Republicans grafted national spending bill to it
November, 1999
1101EditorTreating DC as Pawn--DC bill to be vetoed 4th time--Congress,Pres should drop DC from their game
1102FehrClinton Seeks to End Impasse on DC Budget--newest version OK--if stripped of huge US spending bill
1103StaffSenate Approves DC budget 49 to 48 with huge unrelated federal spending bills attached--veto promised
1105StaffNeedle Exchange Issue Holds Up DC Budget--House still bans distribution by private clinics
1111StaffNegotiators Reach Deal on DC Budget acceptable to Clinton--but could be merged with other bills
1119StaffDC Budget Clears House, Stalls in Senate--part of $390B spending bill, incl. tax cut, riverfront fix-up etc.
1120FehrSenate Sends DC Budget to President--many riders: marijuama, needles, lawyer fees, cell towers, etc.
1120PianinSpending Vote Ends Hill's Year--8-bill, $385B pkg includes DC, UN bills, no Medicare cut, etc.
1124FehrKey Congressman Calls Plan to Fund DC Bonuses Illegal--Istook says mayor can't use severance pay item

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pageCONGRESSIONAL MEDDLING IN DC BUDGET CONTINUES APACE IN 2000

A similar chronology to 1999 (see above) has been demonstrated in 2000, with several intrusions into the local affairs of the District. Of particular interest this year was the short-lived attempt to add a trivial amount for a study of the merits of a commuter tax: it was added on July 15th and removed on July 26th to satisfy the conflict of interest of Subcommittee chairman Tom Davis. The final resolution of this year's budget is not likely to be achieved until sometime in November.

CHRONOLOGY OF CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS ON DC FY01 BUDGET
June,2000
608StaffControl Bd OKs DC '01 Budget--sends to Congress, OKs Natwar Gandhi as CFO, revenue est up $67M
612EditorialThe District Does Its Part--DC's $5B budget has no barnacles--up to Congress to keep 'social riders' out
614Fehr (cont)City Debt Threatens Bond Rating--Senator Hutchinson OKs tax cut, but says $3B debt too high
614FehrTax Cut Misguided, Senator Warns DC--Durbin says city ignoring key needs in schools, police, etc.
615EditorTax-Cut Tongue-Lashing--Durbin pouting over DC budget uncalled for: DC spending is DC's business
July, 2000
701StaffCongress Antes Up $4.5M for IMF Protests--Norton pushed special rider on another bill to recoup costs
714LooseLipsCongressional Over-slight--Rep Istook shows his autocratic bent in tirade about 'conscience clause'
716EditorConfronting the Commuter Tax--settling for $100K study far cry from what's needed--but Rep Istook tried!
720FehrLawmaker Seeks Cut of Half in DC Control Board Funds--Istook proposes reductions in court system too
720EditorThe Council and 'Conscience': House should remove restrictive language, let DC Council, mayor fix bill
721FahrentholdHill Committee Enters Fray on DC Measure--birth control 'conscience clause' sought by Istook
722EditorRiding Hard on District--Istook riders make bad day for DC: NYAve metro stop cut, college tuitions, etc.
727FahrentholdIstook removes $100K commuter tax study from DC bill to satisfy Rep Tom Davis of Virginia suburbs
727FahrentholdAngry Norton Defends Williams' Reputation re 'conscience clause'--says she's really had it with Istook
728PianinGOP Cong. Leaders Take On Oversight--Hastert urges lawmakers to raise quality of Cong oversight
729EditorDC Bill Without the Votes--House lards DC bill with punitive, paternalistic bans unsalable in own states
August, 2000
805FehrControl Bd's Severance Pay Criticized--Istook says plan too lavish--more than DC employees get
806EditorOver Mayor's Head--Congress tells city to sell surplus schools to charters at 25% discount--out of line
September, 2000
907EditorPlay Fair with the District--Congress has saddled DC budget with social riders, spending mandates
907Panero OpEdDon't Derail DC's Revival--redevelopment grinds to halt as Congress chops NYAve Metro Stop
907StaffCity's Budget Goes to House Today--possible debate on several issues: needle exchange, charters, etc.
908StaffHouse Vote on DC Budget Postponed--not enough votes to pass bill with riders, lower funding
915FehrDC Budget Passes House with Limits--needle program gutted, Metro station cut--Istook says money wasted
919FehrSenator Hutchison Wants DC to Save More Money for Rainy Day--phase in reserve over 7 years
928StaffSenate Approves DC Budget--adds brownfields$, caps attorney fees per case, Metro Sta, tuition funding
October, 2000
1004StaffSen Voinovich Gives DC Mixed Review--signs of progress, but troublesome headlines persist
1005FehrDC Budget Goes to Conferees--Norton Warns Battle Could Drag On as House refuses Senate version
1012FehrHill Conferees OK $25M for NYAve Metro Sta, $17M college tuitions, $3.4M Poplar Pt clean-up
1012Fehr (cont)Hill Conferees OK needle exchange prog--when Sen Durbin shows Rep Tiahrt's Kansas has same prog!
1015StaffNat'l Music Museum Seed Money study rejected by Sen Hutchinson as premature: use old Conv Cntr?
1027StaffHouse Passes City's Budget--Veto likely over unacceptable non-DC riders re Commerce, State, Justice
1028StaffDC Budget Passes Senate day after House does, White House says veto coming for non-DC riders
1031StaffSeparation of DC Budget Bill Urged--Norton and Moran want removed from spending bill to be vetoed
return to the top of the pagePARTY PLATFORM STATEMENTS ON DC

Both major political parties included objectives for the District of Columbia at the urging of DC activists such as Congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. The Republicans were somewhat more effusive than the Democrats, but it is clear that some steps will be taken in the next few years to improve the lot of DC.

Republican Party Platform:

The District of Columbia should be an example for the rest of the Country. Instead, decades of domination by the Democratic Party has left the city bankrupt and dangerous. Its residents--and all Americans--deserve better than that.

We reaffirm the constitutional status of the DC as the seat of government of the US and reject calls for statehood for the District. We care for the structural reform of the city's government and its educational system. For both efficiency and public safety, we will transfer water and sewer management to the Army Corps of Engineers or to a regional entity.

We endorse proposals by the Republican Congressional leaders for dramatic reductions in federal taxes--and the city's outrageous marginal tax rate within the District. Bill Clinton opposes the idea. A Republican president will make it a part of a comprehensive agenda to transform the nation's capital into a renewal community, an enterprise zone leading the way for the rest of America to follow.

Democratic Party Platform

(not available)

Details of the existing relationships between the DC Government and the Federal Government are spelled out in some detail in a separate GUPPI Backgrounder and are well worth reading. They remain virtually unchanged under Congress's newly-passed "DC Rescue Plan".

This page was updated on Apr 5, 2001


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