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Needle Lay Away When Bill Clinton vetoed the D.C. budget last week, District residents cheered the president’s long-awaited defense of home rule. Clinton chastised congressional Republicans for trampling self-government, citing, among other things, D.C.’s right to use its own money to fund needle-exchange programs. Research has shown time and again that needle exchanges offer public health benefits without encouraging further drug use. Of course, a similar display of presidential backbone in 1998 would have saved the city from this particular fight with Congress. That April, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala was about to announce a lifting of the ban on federal funding of needle-exchange programs. A last-minute call from the White House left Shalala without the president’s support on the issue.