- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2000

The House yesterday passed the District's $4.8 billion budget for fiscal year 2001, but the bill faces a likely White House veto over its social riders.
In a 217-207 vote divided along party lines, the House approved a federal outlay to the city of $414 million about $31 million less than the $445 million the White House proposed and the District requested.
House Democrats objected to the budget's funding, urging the substitution of a bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that would provide $441 million in federal money to the city.
"The District of Columbia needs its money and it needs it now," said Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat. "This bill shortchanges economic development."
Rep. Ernest Istook, Oklahoma Republican, defended the measure, citing the District's history of fiscal mismanagement.
"If the District were diligent in conducting their duties, we wouldn't have this problem," said Mr. Istook, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District. "Don't put the bag on Congress for mismanagement and abuse.
"We've gone above and beyond … [the bill] moves along reform in the District."
Democrats also objected to the budget's riders, or amendments, that would ban:
* Tobacco possession by people younger than 18.
* Needle-exchange programs within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, arcades and other places children frequent.
* Using city money to fund abortions, with certain exceptions.
* Using city funds to sue Congress for voting rights.
* Legalizing marijuana, even for medicinal use.
* Requiring health insurers to pay for contraceptives without a "conscience clause" allowing religious and other groups to opt out.
The D.C. Council in July passed a measure that would have required all health insurance plans that cover prescription drugs to pay for birth-control pills and other contraceptives available by prescription. Mayor Anthony A. Williams killed the measure with a pocket veto.
"This is a clear choice this is about protecting children," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, Kansas Republican and author of the needle-exchange amendment. "I think we all can agree we do not want [drug needles] in our children's midst."
But D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District's nonvoting representative in Congress, said: "We will never accept amendments guaranteeing death to residents, especially our children."
The White House has said the riders continue to undermine home rule by intruding into city affairs, and Mrs. Norton said she will ask President Clinton to veto the bill.
The House budget also reduced from $25 million to $7 million the federal outlay for a proposed Metro station on New York Avenue. City leaders had lobbied hard for the money for the $84 million project, which they said is crucial to reviving the District's main thoroughfares.

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