D.C. Should Have More Control Over Its Own Money

WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Wednesday said approval of legislation that would give the District of Columbia additional authority to approve the locally raised portion of its budget was an important step toward home rule.

At a business meeting, the committee unanimously approved S. 1267, the District of Columbia Budget Autonomy Act, which will eliminate some of the delay and uncertainty in the District’s budget process and give the District greater control over use of locally-raised funds.

Lieberman also urged his Senate colleagues to support a requirement, also approved by the committee, that federal agencies protect their computer systems from the security and privacy threats posed by file-sharing software.

Approximately 90 percent of the District’s budget is funded through locally-raised funds. Yet, under current law, the District cannot spend these funds until the federal government approves its portion of the D.C. budget through the annual appropriations process. In Fiscal Year 2003, the District was forced to operate without a budget for nearly six months because of Congressional delays.

“The federal appropriations process frequently drags on well into the new fiscal year,” Lieberman said, “translating into real problems for the District. The District should not be held hostage by Congress’ inability to meet its own budget deadlines – especially when a delay costs the city money and impairs its ability to deliver services to city residents. This bill will help remove the uncertainty that has plagued some of D.C.’s past budgets, and give the District greater control over its own funds. It is an idea that is long overdue, and it represents an important step toward full home rule.” Lieberman was an original co-sponsor of the bill.

Lieberman also applauded the Committee for approving The Government Network Security Act of 2003, H.R.3159. Popular peer-to-peer software can be used to spread worms and viruses, and some people using the P2P software unintentionally share other files from their computer.

“Downloading the software onto federal computers could lead to the unauthorized disclosure of personal information,” Lieberman warned. “This legislation does not preclude agencies from using peer-to-peer software, as there may be legitimate uses for the technology. It merely requires agencies to put appropriate protections in place.”

Lieberman commended House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., and ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., for their work on the bill, and urged its passage in the Senate.

Click here for a complete list of legislation marked up at the business meeting: