- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

D.C. officials are preparing residents for a government shutdown this weekend. Mayor Vincent C. Gray will talk to residents at a 2 p.m. press conference, which will include Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting House member.

If Congress fails to pass a stop-gap spending bill by midnight Friday, events at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which attracts million of visitors to Washington each year, could be curtailed in its final weekend. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park and its 19 museums and galleries also will close.

Roughly 4.7 million visits already have been recorded this year at the Smithsonian attractions, with the National Museum of Natural History and others bordering the National Mall among the most popular.

Mrs. Norton, a Democrat, has proposed legislation to allow the D.C. government to remain open if the federal government shuts down. Though the District of Columbia raises and manages its own $8 billion budget, Congress technically appropriates the funds back to the District. Under the current continuing spending resolution in Congress, the District’s authority to spend its local funds expires when the resolution expires on Friday.

“Most Americans would be astonished to discover that the local government of the nation’s capital will shut down if the federal government shuts down,” Mrs. Norton said before the press conference.

• Joseph Weber can be reached at jweber@washingtontimes.com.old.

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