House Report Dismisses DC Autonomy Referendum

WASHINGTON — A report from House Republicans is dismissing the District of Columbia’s budget autonomy referendum as nonbinding.

The report was issued Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee accompanied by a D.C. spending bill set for a vote on Wednesday.

The charter amendment approved by voters in April would allow the city government to spend local tax dollars without congressional approval and let the District set its own fiscal calendar. Supporters say it would free the district’s budget from Capitol Hill maneuvering. But critics, including D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, say it could be unconstitutional and subject to legal challenges.

“The committee considers the recent referendum in the District as an expression of the opinion of the residents, only, and without any authority to change or alter the existing relationship between federal appropriations and the District,” the report says.

The report represents the views of Republican committee members and its language has the backing of House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. It has no impact on the measure and the Democratic-controlled Senate will write its own bill that likely won’t include the same language.

The charter change is still within a 35 legislative day period when Congress can block it with a disapproval resolution passed by both chambers and signed by the president. Depending on work schedules, that period could end as soon as next week.

So far, federal lawmakers have not made an effort to block the charter amendment.

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