Reporting Lauren McLendon
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The District’s residents, businesses and visitors are all in jeopardy with the continued government shutdown, according to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
Gray spoke at Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School in Northeast Washington Thursday night calling for residents to contact the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“Tell them to remove the shackles and unbind the fetters that currently restrict the District from spending our own money,” Gray said.
The Anti-Deficiency Act prohibits federal agencies, and D.C., from spending money without Congressional approval of the budget. This has led to the city being unable to use its local money since the shutdown began on Oct. 1.
Gray said the current stalemate between the House of Representatives and Senate is putting the District’s funds in the middle of a “tug-of-war.”
“The 632,000 residents of the District of Columbia find ourselves trapped in a terrible and unprecedented predicament,” Gray said before a packed gym in the charter school. “What’s worse and, frankly, more galling, is that this predicament is one we had no hand in making, and one from which we can be rescued only by a legislature in which we have no voting voice.”
The shutdown is leaving major negative effects on the delivery of key services throughout the city.
A $90 million payment, according to the Executive Office of the Mayor, has already been delayed to doctors and hospitals participating in the federal Medicaid program.
The program helps to pay for medical services for low-income and disabled residents of the District.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has also been hit hard as a result of the shutdown.
A multi-million dollar payment to the transit service to help keep Metro running has been delayed, according to the Mayor’s Office.
“These are problems that directly compromise the health, safety, and welfare of our residents, visitors and businesses,” Gray said. “It’s time to tell Congress in unequivocal terms, free D.C.”