(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced that the District of Columbia is ready to continue delivering essential services in the event of a federal shutdown. Nonetheless, he highlighted the injustice of the District’s lack of budget autonomy from Congress. D.C. is the only jurisdiction in the United States prohibited from spending local dollars in the event of a federal budget impasse.
“We regret that we even have to consider the possibility that the District of Columbia would fall victim to a partisan standoff on Capitol Hill,” said Mayor Gray. “But the office of City Administrator Allen Lew has worked diligently over the past month with agency directors to determine what city functions we would legally be able to continue if congressional stalemate results not only in a federal shutdown, but the D.C. government not being allowed to spend our own money.”
The exhaustive examination of essential services and necessary staffing shows that about 21,000 of approximately 35,000 D.C. employees will be exempt. “While we remain hopeful that a resolution will be found to the budget situation, we are committed to provide strategic deployment of personnel, particularly for those services that protect public health and safety,” said Lew.
The plan calls for the following services to remain open:
• Metropolitan Police Department: All sworn officers will continue to be on duty. The 911 system will also be fully operational.
• Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department: All firefighters and EMTs will be on duty
• DC Public Schools and Public Charter Schools: DCPS and Public Charter Schools will remain open
• Limited Health and Human Services Functions: A limited number of Health and Human Services functions will be operating, including income maintenance functions (TANF, food stamps, and Medicaid), limited unemployment benefits functions, the Department of Mental Health, various functions of the Child and Family Services Agency, and a limited set of functions within the Department of Health
Services that would be interrupted by a federal shutdown include:
• Department of Motor Vehicles: All locations will be closed.
• Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs: The permitting and licensing functions will not operate during a shutdown.
• Department of Public Works: Trash collection will not start until one week after shutdown. Street sweeping will be suspended.
• Department of Transportation: DDOT will be operating with a skeletal crew, so routine maintenance and repairs will cease. Emergency repairs will be made.
• Public Libraries: All D.C. libraries will be closed.
Previously Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton attempted to get a House vote on a provision that would allow the D.C. government to spend its own local funds for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The attempt failed in the House Rules Committee.
“This situation is the clearest case that we can make for immediate budget autonomy and, ultimately, full statehood,” Mayor Gray said. “It’s just wrong and inappropriate for the D.C. government to be treated, in budget matters, like another federal agency and for our residents to be treated like second-class citizens.”
District employees will receive detailed instructions from agency directors in the next 24 hours. Additional shutdown information is currently available at www.DC.gov and will also be available on District Cable Ch. 16 and the non-emergency phone line 311.
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