November 16, 2011 — Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray and other district officials did not immediately take a position on draft legislation that would give the city authority to set its own budget but permanently bar it from using its own money to pay for abortion services for low-income women, the Huffington Post reports (Bassett, Huffington Post, 11/16).
Currently, Congress must approve the district's budget. The draft bill from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, proposes allowing the district to begin spending its own funds after the D.C. Council and mayor give their approval, without having to wait for Congress to approve the budget (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/15).
Gray said of the bill, "On its face, it's exciting to recognize that our message on budget autonomy is being heard," adding, "But we're not absolutely sure yet how far this gets us toward being able to have control of our budget like other states do." Gray said his staff is reviewing the proposal.
D.C. Council member Vincent Orange said, "There always seems to be a catch" to increased autonomy for the district. Council member Michael Brown said he supports abortion rights and has qualms about the proposal. He added, "I don't know if I want to put conditions on our independence" (Howell, Washington Times, 11/15).