Budget autonomy plaintiff Phil Mendelson
Budget autonomy plaintiff Phil Mendelson

The D.C. Council’s fight with Mayor Vince Gray over budget autonomy could be resolved only two weeks before the Council has to make its first vote on the mayor’s budget, according to a schedule laid out today in a federal court hearing over the lawsuit filed by the Council and Chairman Phil Mendelson against Gray and Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt.

The ruling, which could come any time after May 14 from U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, could resolve the dispute between Gray and the Council over whether Gray and DeWitt should be forced to accept a budget produced under the budget autonomy rules. Or maybe it won’t be resolved, and the District will plunge into a government shutdown and the return of the financial control board, as the Gray administration has warned could be the consequences of the District unilaterally enacting budget autonomy.

Sullivan suggested that he’s opposed to a motion from the Council’s attorneys to move the lawsuit back to Superior Court, where it was original filed. “I have my doubts about the argument that the court lacks jurisdiction,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also warned the attorneys not to come up with any last-minute revelations at the May 14 hearing. “Don’t save your best argument for oral arguments,” Sullivan said.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery