Republican-led efforts have scuttled legislation on Capitol Hill that would have allowed the District greater autonomy over its budget — the third defeat of a key city priority in as many years.
Democrats withdrew a Senate bill from committee consideration Tuesday evening after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered a series of amendments to alter D.C. laws on guns, abortion and labor unions.
Under the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and strongly supported by city officials, the District would be able to spend its funds after the mayor and D.C. Council have agreed on a budget — without congressional approval. The measure also would allow the city to decide when to begin its fiscal year, rather than conforming to the federal calendar. (Most states begin the fiscal year July 1, making it easier to plan school budgets, while the District’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1.)
As recently as November, District officials asked Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to put off consideration of his D.C. autonomy measure because it included a ban on the city spending its money to pay for abortions. And in 2010, Democratic leaders shelved a bill that would have granted the District a voting member of Congress because gun-rights supporters from both parties threatened to attach language loosening the city’s firearms laws.