Obama Threatens To Veto Bill Undermining DC Budget Autonomy

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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President Barack Obama is threatening to veto a bill from the House of Representatives that bans the District from spending money without congressional approval, taking a step into the fight over D.C. budget autonomy and the push for statehood.

The House Oversight Committee voted on partisan lines May 17 to reassert their fiscal authority over the city, dealing a blow to the D.C. statehood movement. After the bill moved through the House Rules Committee Tuesday the White House issued a statement making plain their opposition to the legislation, saying the president’s top advisers would likely recommend a veto, reports NBC Washington.

The House bill is expected to be approved Thursday, but will still face passage in the Senate. The current language seeks to block future legislative attempts at D.C. autonomy and invalidates the District’s budget for the 2016 fiscal year.

“The residents of the District and their elected leaders deserve to have the same ability as other U.S. residents and elected leaders to determine how to use their local revenues to address their unique needs,” the White House said in a statement to NBC4. “Such authority is fundamental to a well-functioning democracy, and the Congress denying the District this authority is an affront to the residents and elected leaders of the District.”

The District recently passed a budget autonomy amendment eliminating a measure from the city charter requiring them to wait for congressional approval before spending money from their budget. The amendment says the city can start spending after a 30 day review period upon submission to Congress in which they can only cast an up or down vote approving the budget. (RELATED: Congress Asserts Fiscal Dominance Over DC, Rebukes Move Toward Statehood)

The U.S. District Court struck the amendment down, however the D.C. Superior Court ruled in March the District has a right to spend freely. Congress’s rebuke of the courts is setting up an ugly showdown with D.C. lawmakers and potentially with the Obama Administration.

“I am enormously grateful to the White House for strongly supporting D.C. home rule and condemning this latest effort by House Republicans to trample on the will of our voters,” Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting member in Congress, said Wednesday in a press release. “The White House’s veto threat will give us momentum as we battle to keep the repeal bill from moving in the Senate or being attached to an omnibus later this year.”

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