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Monday, October 28, 2013

FY2014 Appropriations: District of Columbia

Eugene Boyd
Analyst in Federalism and Economic Development Policy

On April 10, 2013, the Obama Administration released its detailed budget request for FY2014. The Administration’s proposed budget includes $676.3 million in special federal payments to the District of Columbia, which is slightly higher than the $674.1 (excluding sequester) appropriated for FY2013. Approximately 80% ($543.4 million) of the President’s proposed budget request for the District would be targeted to the courts and criminal justice system. The President’s budget request also includes $87.2 million in support of education initiatives. This represents 12.9% of the Administration’s federal payment budget request for the District of Columbia.

On May 22, 2013, the District of Columbia Council approved an FY2014 budget that included $12.1 billion in total operating funds and $2.1 billion in capital outlays. The mayor signed the measure (A20-0127) on July 24, 2013. Included in the act are provisions that would grant the District significant autonomy over its budgetary and legislative affairs. Specifically, the act would repeal portions of the District’s code governing congressional review of all acts passed by the District of Columbia Council, including the District’s annual budget and those acts approved by voters through the referendum process.

On July 25, 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported S. 1371, its version of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for FY2014, with an accompanying report (S.Rept. 113-80). As reported, the bill recommended $674.8 million in special federal payments to the District. This is $700,000 more than appropriated for FY2013, and $1.5 million less than requested by the Administration. On July 17, 2013, the House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2014, H.R. 2786, with an accompanying report (H.Rept. 113- 172). The bill includes $635.8 million in special federal payments to the District. This is $38.3 million less than appropriated for FY2013, $40.5 million less than requested by the Administration, and $39 million less than recommended by the Senate committee bill.

The Senate and House committee bills include several general provisions that city officials have sought to eliminate or modify. The Senate committee bill would lift the prohibition on the use of District funds to provide abortion services, but would continue the prohibition against the use of federal funds for the same services. The House committee bill would restrict the use of both District and federal funds for abortion services to instances involving rape, incest, or a health threat to the life of the pregnant woman. Both the House and Senate committee bills would (1) continue to prohibit the use of federal funds to regulate and decriminalize the medical use of marijuana, (2) continue to prohibit the District from using federal funds for a needle exchange program to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, and (3) provide funding for a school voucher program, but at significantly different funding levels. The Senate committee measure, consistent with language included in the Administration FY2014 budget documents, includes provisions that would grant the city budget autonomy over the expenditure of locally raised funds, an action long sought by District officials. The Senate provisions would permit District officials to obligate and expend local funds upon enactment by the District, absent active congressional review and approval, of its local annual budget. In addition, the Senate committee bill would grant the District the authority to spend local funds if Congress has not enacted a federal appropriation authorizing the expenditure of local funds before the start of the District’s fiscal year. In an effort to mitigate the impact of a federal shutdown because of a failure to pass FY2014 appropriations for the District of Columbia, the House approved, by voice vote, H.J.Res. 71, a measure that would allow the District to spend its local tax revenues to fund District operations through
December 15, 2013. Despite lobbying efforts by District elected officials, the Senate has not taken up consideration of the bill. This report will be updated as events warrant.

Date of Report: October 15, 2013
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: R43253
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