Sen. Rand Paul plans to amend a bill that allows D.C. officials to spend local dollars without waiting for approval on Capitol Hill by tacking on provisions that restrict abortions in the District and relax the city's gun laws.
The amendments from Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, are raising the ire of D.C. officials who have lobbied for budget autonomy in both chambers of Congress and up-ended a markup that Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut independent who introduced the bill, had scheduled for the legislation on Wednesday morning.
"Senator Paul's proposed amendments are an insult to the people of our city," Mayor Vincent C. Gray said in an email he sent to his spokesman from China, where he is traveling on business.
The situation is one of deja vu for the District. Last year, city officials rejected a House proposal by Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, that offered D.C. budget autonomy while permanently banning locally funded abortions in the District. Mr. Issa has said he is committed to crafting a new proposal.
Mr. Paul's amendments would establish the permanent ban on locally funded abortions; would allow D.C. resident to obtain concealed weapon permits and recognize concealed-carry permits issued to residents of other states; create an office to help residents purchase and register firearms; and make clear that membership in a union cannot be a precondition for employment in the District, according to copies provided by Mr. Paul's office.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Mr. Lieberman chairs, removed the D.C. budget autonomy bill from its "business meeting" agenda on Tuesday evening.
Mr. Paul is the son of Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican who tried to secure the Republican nomination for president this year as part of a crowded field opposing presumed nominee Mitt Romney.
Mary Brooks Beatty, the Republican nominee for at-large member of the D.C. Council in this November's elections, called the senator's amendments an "overreach" with "no place in this bill."
"D.C. budget autonomy is an issue that has seen support on both sides of the aisle," she said in a statement through the D.C. Republican Committee. "And it's a shame that someone elected to represent Kentucky has decided to add language that could deny rights to District residents."
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Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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