Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New budget autonomy for DC in the work, or "Lieberman steps it up"

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) introduced legislation to the Senate last night that would grant the District of Columbia new budgetary autonomy. The initiative would severe the District's budget from the Congressional appropriations process, which currently exposes local administration to federal political infighting and often delays the District budgetary development by six to eight months. Lieberman was joined by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dan Akaka (D-Hawaii) as cosponsors. Lieberman’s newest move comes as support continues to build in the House, where Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the D.C.-focused Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been recently spearheading the reform effort. Lieberman will be retiring at the end of his current term, and this latest bill is seen as part of an effort to button-down his legacy as a District-governance advocate.

The Give D.C. Local Budget Control Bill of 2012 would grant DC government the power to set its own fiscal year and develop a budget without interference from the Congress. The legislation does not entirely strip Congress from the equation, however; it will still have a period in which to review the budget and vote on a “statement of disapproval” that would also have to be signed into law by the president. While oversight of the District remains with Congress (as proscribed in the Constitution), this new arrangement would distance Congress from the formative budget process and require members to make and up-or-down vote on the final product.

Read the full story at Roll Call.

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