D.C. Girds for Possible Federal Shutdown

City deciding what to keep open

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Shutterstock

    A federal government shutdown might not mean a complete local government shutdown.

    The House passed a continuing resolution Tuesday afternoon that will keep the U.S. government operating until March 18, after current appropriations measures were set to expire this Friday. This delays a possible shutdown, but does not eliminate the chance -- Republicans seem unwilling to continue passing a series of stopgaps until the House, Senate and White House can agree on a spending plan.

    And any shutdown would have an impact on D.C.

    Because of the District’s unique status, even the city’s spending of local funds -- that is, revenue from D.C. taxes, not federal taxes -- is subject to congressional approval. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton had submitted an amendment to the continuing resolution that would let the District keep spending these local funds for the rest of the fiscal year, regardless of what happened with the federal budget.

    No dice -- it was shot down on a party-line vote.

    “Even if the federal government does not shut down, there are serious consequences to making the District sweat through successive [continuing resolutions],” Norton said. “Congress may want to play chicken with the federal budget, but the city cannot afford this game.”

    Even with the uncertainty, City Administrator Allen Lew is working with Mayor Vincent Gray to figure out how to keep the District government functioning.

    “We regret that we even have to consider the possibility that the District of Columbia would fall victim to a partisan standoff on Capitol Hill,” Gray said. But Lew, Gray continued, “is working assiduously to determine what city functions we would legally be able to continue if congressional stalemate results not only in a federal shutdown, but the D.C. government not being allowed to spend our own money.”

    Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC