Norton: Democrats sold out D.C. in spending deal

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

Washington’s representative to Congress said Saturday she feels like the city was the victim of a “sellout” by Democrats in Friday night’s spending negotiations after the District of Columbia was the focus for two of the biggest policy fights.

President Obama signed off on restricting the city from using its own taxpayer money to fund abortions, and agreed to restore the city’s school voucher program, which is popular with parents but opposed by many elected officials.

“We knew that the House Republicans were on the attack when they took our vote in the Committee of the Whole on the first day of this Congress. What we did not anticipate was that the administration and Senate Democrats would roll over and use our right to self-govern as a bargaining chip,” said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the city’s non-voting representative in Congress.

In a sternly worded statement Saturday afternoon Mrs. Norton said city residents have “every reason to be angry” with the White House and Senate Democrats. She said she didn’t even know the restrictions were accepted until she saw it in press reports.

The city is overwhelmingly Democratic — the most so of any of the 51 jurisdictions that has a vote in the electoral college.

As a federal district defined by the Constitution, the city’s funding is subject to congressional approval, and Congress has frequently intervened to control policies in the District.

The spending bill agreement, reached late Friday, denies Republicans most of their sought-after policy add-ons, such as restricting national funding for Planned Parenthood and stopping the White House’s health care and environmental plans.

But Democrats did concede to both the D.C. vouchers and abortion policies, as well as another restriction that prevents the administration from closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where suspected terrorist detainees are held.

“it appears that District residents and detainees at Guantanamo Bay were the only groups singled out in the bill, and the symbolism of the pairing and the contempt it shows for our city is not lost on our residents,” Mrs. Norton said.

An aide involved in the negotiations said Mr. Obama personally signed off on the D.C. abortion restrictions in negotiations with House Speaker John A. Boehner, but the president refused to budge on the money for Planned Parenthood at the national level.

Mr. Boehner, a Republican, also considers the D.C. vouchers program a priority. He is an original co-sponsor of a bill to restore the program, and his office said it may well be the only bill he sponsors this entire year.

The voucher program was created at the beginning of the last decade, but when Mr. Obama took control and had a Democratic Congress in 2009 he said he wanted to end the program. He allowed students already receiving vouchers to continue, but halted any new enrollments.

Under the new agreement reached Friday night, the program is expected to be revived.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks