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President Barack Obama‘s proposed $56 billion budget for the next fiscal year could be good news for the District, symbolically at least.
For the first time, the federal budget includes statutory language that would give the District legislative autonomy, which would eliminate the congressional review period for legislation passed by the D.C. Council and signed by the mayor. The budget would would also give the District budget autonomy.
“This is the best news in a president’s budget for D.C. funding in several years and for D.C. policy ever,” Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a release. “Residents will be cheered to see the President’s statutory language for both budget and legislative autonomy, and parents and students will be particularly gratified by the strong increase in funding for DCTAG.”
So why should we hold off before we pop the champagne?
There’s a good chance these measures won’t pass the GOP-controlled House and, since there will likely be a whole lot of partisan fights over the budget, it seems unlikely that Democrats would choose to go to bat for D.C. autonomy issues. Legislation that would permanently grant D.C. budget autonomy has previously failed to pass Congress.
The budget also funds $40 million for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program (DCTAG), a $10 million increase over last year and the largest amount the budget has ever allocated to the program, according to Norton.