D.C. Council Sues Mayor to Spend Local Revenue Without Congressional Approval

The D.C. Council filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Mayor Vincent Gray over the city's authority to spend some of its local tax money without congressional approval.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson marched to Superior Court Thursday intent on forcing Gray to spend about $6 billion in local tax revenue over the next year without waiting for approval from Congress.

“This is not something frivolous,” Mendelson said. “This is not about us beating our chests. We think we have a very good legal case.”

Mendelson says the D.C. government and voters overwhelming approved a change in the city's charter last year that says local funds -- under so-called budget autonomy -- can be spent each year without waiting for routine Capitol Hill approval.

The council expects its latest budget to pass in late May and wants the court to order Gray to spend the money.

Gray said he supports budget autonomy for the city, but his legal advice says the council is risking violating federal law.

“I think we're all in agreement that we want budget autonomy,” Gray said. “I have questions about the path that the council has taken.”

Attorneys representing the council say this budget stalemate could affect city operations in late May if the court doesn't act.

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