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What you have seen during the 112th Congress is spontaneous reaction from officials and residents of the District of Columbia to spontaneous injustice from this House.
(House of Representatives - December 15, 2011)

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[Pages H9003-H9004]
                              {time}  1630

  What you have seen during the 112th Congress is spontaneous reaction 
from officials and residents of the District of Columbia to spontaneous 
injustice from this House.
  Importantly in what Mr. Ellison read was the notion of budget 
autonomy. The most immediate answer to the predicament we find 
ourselves in is the failure of Congress to acknowledge that our local 
budget has no business in this House.
  I am very pleased that one Member, the chairman of the House 
Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mr. Issa, had the District 
before him in the form of several of our public officials and listened 
closely to their testimony. Their testimony, and the testimony of 
witnesses called by the majority Republicans, went something like this: 
that the District of Columbia's finances and its budget are in better 
shape than those of virtually any jurisdiction in the United States.
  Then witnesses from both sides said that the District does incur 
significant problems. Those problems result from the fact that the 
District has to do its budget twice--first for itself, and then the 
Congress does its budget again. As a result, the bondholders charge the 
residents of the District of Columbia a premium because Congress 
requires the District's budget to come here.
  What does the Congress do with the District's budget when it comes 
here? Well, it certainly wouldn't tamper with a budget that has been 
put together by D.C. Council subcommittees, hearing endless hours of 
testimony, then calling committees, then with give-and-

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take from members of the council. Congress doesn't feel it's competent 
to do that, so what Congress does is to essentially pass the budget as 
it is and use the fact that the budget is here for its own purposes and 
against the interests of the residents of the District of Columbia. It 
uses the local D.C. budget to affix amendments--known as riders--to 
keep the District from doing what the District wants to do with its own 
local funds. I'm not here talking about what the District wants to do 
with Federal funds; it's what the District wants to do with its own 
local funds.
  And in order to make sure that the District gets the point, the 
District gets shut down if the Federal Government decides to shut down. 
The very threat of a shutdown has repercussions for the District's 
finances, for those who hold its bonds, for those who hold its 
contracts. No city can afford that, and certainly not the District of 
  As a result, this situation has not only driven our own people to 
civil disobedience, it has driven them to follow the example of Mahatma 
Gandhi who, when things got bad enough, if you saw the movie 
``Gandhi,'' would simply stop eating. People would beg him to eat, and 
he would stop eating. And people would say, You must eat; you're more 
valuable if you're alive, and he would not eat because he was trying to 
shame the British Government into bringing democracy to India. And he 
succeeded and has been, of course, the great icon of civil disobedience 
of various kinds.
  But who would expect that public officials would have to engage in 
civil disobedience here? Who would ever think that a hunger strike 
would be necessary in the United States of America? Not for some 
radical principle, but for the first principle, the principle upon 
which this country was founded: If it's our money, we get to decide 
what to do with our money, King George--yes, and King Congress.
  May I inquire how much time I have remaining?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman has 1 minute remaining.
  Ms. NORTON. There is an answer to this, and I thank Mr. Issa for 
proposing a budget autonomy bill himself that mirrors my own budget 
autonomy bill--with some differences to be sure, in deference to the 
Congress. But this is a chairman of a committee who listened to the 
District, listened to witnesses, understood the harm imposed on the 
District--not only the shutdown, not only, of course, the amendments, 
but he was particularly impressed by the harm it does to the finances 
of a city that has done the right thing by its own finances.
  As we contemplate what will happen in the next few hours, we ought to 
find a way to do two things if we do nothing else: Make sure that the 
District budget passes as the District would have it--not as any Member 
of this House would have it--and that the abortion amendment is gone; 
and, finally, that under no circumstances, whatever happens to the 
Federal Government, under no circumstances should the government of a 
local jurisdiction, your Nation's capital, be shut down.



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