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Congressional control over District of Columbia funds (abortion, etc.)

09/14/2017
House Roll Call No. 520
115th Congress, 1st Session

Failed: 186-222 (see complete tally)
The U.S. Constitution says that Congress shall "exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever" with respect to the seat of the federal government, the District of Columbia.  Part of this congressional oversight is a requirement that all public funds expended by local District officials (the mayor, etc.) must be appropriated by Congress, including funds raised by local taxes.  For many years, Congress has placed limits on how such funds may be spent, including a prohibition on funding elective abortions.  However, the District Council (city council) enacted a local "budget autonomy" law that they insist gives them the right to spend these "local" funds with congressional approval.   In response, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives crafted language to explicitly nullify the District Council's "budget autonomy" law, and included this language in an omnibus appropriations bill to fund most federal agencies during Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 3354).  During consideration of this bill on the House floor, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the non-voting delegate from the District, offered an amendment to strike the Republican language reaffirming congressional authority.  National Right to Life, in a letter sent to U.S. House members on September 7, 2017, urged rejection of the Norton Amendment, and warned that allowing District officials to ignore congressional authority would open the door to funding of abortion, and would invite "more assaults by District authorities against pro-life and other conservative groups that are based in the District, such as we've already seen in the so-called 'Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act' (RHNDA). . ." (see the text explaining the previous roll call in this scorecard).  The Norton Amendment failed, 186-222, a pro-life win.  All votes supporting the Norton Amendment were cast by Democrats, while all votes to retain the good bill language reaffirming congressional authority were cast by Republicans.  House roll call no. 520, September 14, 2017.  [The House subsequently passed H.R. 3354 and sent it to the U.S. Senate for further consideration.]


Vote Map: House Roll Call No. 520
Votes For : 186
Votes Against : 222
Not Voting : 25

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