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Campus Notebook: Marital Discord

More than 30 lawmakers have signed on to a bill that would define marriage in the District of Columbia as between a man and a woman, reacting to legislation recently passed by the D.C. Council recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.

[IMGCAP(1)]Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) held a rally last week to announce his bill, the D.C. Defense of Marriage Act. Most of its supporters are Republicans — including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) — but Oklahoma Democrat Dan Boren is a lead sponsor.

Under the District’s home rule charter, Congress has 30 legislative days to change the D.C. legislation. But few Members have expressed an interest in doing so.

D.C. officials are debating whether to take the next step and introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the District. Jordan and Boren’s bill preempts that effort.

Printing Problems. The Government Printing Office wants Congress to pay more than $13 million to make much-needed repairs on its century-old building, after already trying to move out for years.

Public Printer Robert Tapella and his predecessor, Bruce James, wanted Congress to pass legislation that would allow the agency to move to a building more suited to modern printing.

But progress has been slow, and Tapella told Members last week that the building has been deteriorating in the meantime.

“You can only defer maintenance for so long, and then they die,— he told Members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.

The agency is also facing decreased revenue because of the economic downturn. Only about 13 percent of the agency’s budget comes from Congress — the rest is from contracts with federal agencies for various printing work.

But such work has begun to dry up. Most notably, this year the State Department is expected to ask for less than half the passports that it did in 2008.

“I won’t kid you,— Tapella said. “This is going to be a tough year for us.—

The agency is asking for an 18 percent increase in its budget for fiscal 2010, including more than $18 million for technology projects.

Officials also want Congress to approve a larger marketing budget so they can attract more clients and thus make more money — right now, the marketing budget is only $5,000.

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